US health officials backed away from the controversial advice issued last month that said people without symptoms of Covid-19 should not get tested.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now says that anyone in close contact with a known infected person should be tested.
Friday’s “clarification” of the CDC’s stance on testing returns to its previous guidance, before the August amendment.
Reports said the controversial advice was not provided by scientists.
The sources quoted the New York Times He said it was posted on the CDC website despite the experts’ objections.
Reuters reported that most of the US states refused the directive after that, in a scathing rebuke to the nation’s top disease prevention agency.
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Some observers suggested that this controversial move may reflect President Donald Trump’s desire to reduce the growing number of Covid-19 cases.
At a rally in June, Trump told his supporters he had urged officials to “slow down the test, please.” A White House official denied the statement, calling it a joke.
But administration officials denied there was any political motive, and told Reuters that the change reflects “current evidence and best public health practices.”
Experts welcomed the change of course on Friday.
“Returning to the science-based approach to testing guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is good news for public health and for our united fight against this pandemic,” said Thomas Vail, president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America.
The CDC says its “test overview” for health care workers: “Given the importance of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, this guidance reinforces the need to test people without symptoms, including close contacts of a person with documented SARS-CoV-2 infection.”
People are advised to take a test “if you’ve been in close contact, such as 6 feet from a person with a documented SARS-CoV-2 infection for at least 15 minutes and he’s not showing symptoms”.
The United States has recorded nearly seven million cases of coronavirus, more than a fifth of the total in the world. It has the highest death toll in the world, with nearly 200,000 killed.
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