Does omicron change quarantine guidelines? Experts weigh in on strategies

Coronavirus

NEW YORK — As COVID-19 cases surged in the tri-state area, even among vaccinated people, there are questions about quarantines. 

“What we are seeing with omicron is that is very, very highly contagious — even in vaccinated individuals,” Dr. Purvi Parikh said. 

Even booster shots have not stopped some omicron variant cases. Early pandemic guidance required a quarantine if someone was directly exposed to a positive person. Vaccination changed that, but in the wake of this new variant some are posing a new question: Should it change again?

“If you have an exposure for long periods of time, I would recommend not only quarantining but also testing. And you may have to test multiple times,” Dr. Parikh, an immunologist with the Allergy and Asthma Network, said.

A quarantine for vaccinated people may not be required but Dr. Ted Long of the New York City Test and Trace Corp. had some advice Wednesday.

“The vaccine does work against every variant, including omicron. It does provide protection. Therefore, if you are vaccinated and you are not symptomatic, wear a mask for 14 days. Get tested at day 5 to know if you have COVID,” he said.

According to the New York City Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Dave Chokshi, if you are vaccinated and test positive, the isolation period is 10 days.

“That includes whether you are fully vaccinated or unvaccinated,” he added.

Health experts have said that guidance for testing and isolation keeps changing because scientists learn more and more about COVID-19 every day.

“We have an evolving dynamic. We haven’t seen anything quite like omicron before,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said.

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