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Max Minute: Doctors Worry COVID-Infected People Will Slip Through Cracks As Countries Shorten Quarantine Lengths

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Some countries are cutting the length of time people are supposed to quarantine after exposure to the coronavirus, but the approach is controversial.

Quarantining is meant to keep people who may have been infected away from others during the so-called incubation period of the virus. That's thought to be no more than 14 days for the coronavirus.

But if that time is shortened, will many infected people slip through the cracks?


With many countries experiencing pandemic fatigue, compliance with a voluntary self-isolation of 14 days has been slipping, so some public health experts have proposed trimming that time to 10 or even seven days, CBS2's Dr. Max Gomez reports.

Already France has cut their quarantine time to seven days.

Belgium went to seven days but then upped it to 10 after a surge in cases. Germany and the U.K. are also considering a shorter isolation time, this despite much of Europe seeing death rates rising steeply.

Most studies have found that the average incubation time, the period from virus exposure to actually getting sick, is five to seven days for corona. The theory is that more people will comply if the quarantine is just a week.

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But the dean of the CUNY School of Public Health says seven days could still miss a lot of COVID-infected people.

"If the cutoff was by seven days, what percent of people would we be missing and found that we could be missing as many as 15% or 20% of people that could get sick after exposure," Dr. Ayman El-Mohandes said.

While seven or 10 days may increase compliance, El-Mohandes says human nature is that with a 14-day quarantine, some people will start to skip out of isolation after 12 or 10 days.

If quarantine is trimmed to seven days, some people will leave well before they know if they've been infected.


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