US health chiefs reverse advice on Covid-19 testing

US health chiefs reverse advice on Covid-19 testing
The US has had nearly seven million confirmed Covid-19 cases. Source: Getty Images
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Daily US Times: US health officials have rowed back on controversial advice on Covid-19 testing issued last month that said people without symptoms should not get tested.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now says anyone in close contact with a known Covid-19 infected person should take a test.

Friday’s “clarification” returns the CDC’s stance on Covid-19 testing to its previous guidance, before the August alteration.

Reports said the controversial latest advice had not been given by scientists.

It had been posted on the CDC website despite experts’ objections, sources quoted by the New York Times said.

Most US states had then rejected the guidance, in a stinging rebuke to the nation’s top disease prevention agency.

Some observers suggested the controversial move could have reflected a desire by President Trump to reduce the growing tally of Covid-19 cases.

Mr Trump told supporters at a rally in June that he had urged officials to “slow the testing down, please”, but a White House official dismissed the remark as a joke.

Administration officials denied any political motive, however, telling Reuters that the change reflected “current evidence and best public health practices”.

Experts welcomed the change of tack on Friday.

Thomas File, president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America: “The return to a 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.”

“Due to the significance of asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission, this guidance further reinforces the need to test asymptomatic persons, including close contacts of a person with documented SARS-CoV-2 infection,” in its “overview of testing” for healthcare workers the CDC now says.

The CDC advises people to take a test “if you have been in close contact, such as within 6ft of a person with documented SARS-CoV-2 infection for at least 15 minutes and do not have symptoms”.

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