US health officials have rowed back on controversial advice issued last month that said people without COVID-19 symptoms should not get tested, reports BBC News. The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) now says anyone in close contact with a known infected person should take a test. The report says the “clarification” returns the CDC’s stance on testing to its previous guidance, before the August alteration. Reports said the controversial advice had not been given by scientists.
Sources were quoted as saying that it had been posted on the CDC website despite experts’ objections. Most US states had then rejected the guidance, Reuters reported, 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 Donald Trump to reduce the growing tally of COVID-19 cases. BBC News reports, however, administration officials denied any political motive, saying that the change reflected “current evidence and best public health practices”.
The report says experts welcomed the change of tack. “The return to a science-based approach to testing guidance from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention is good news for public health and for our united fight against this pandemic,” said Thomas File, president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America.
According to the report, the CDC now says: “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.”
It 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”.
Full BBC News report
CDC Overview of Testing for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19)