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CDC Reverses Position, Says Asymptomatic Patients Should Be Tested for SARS-CoV-2

NEW YORK – The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention now says patients who are asymptomatic for SARS-CoV-2 should get tested, walking back its guidance issued last month that said asymptomatic patients did not need to be tested.

In a short update posted on CDC's website on Friday, the center said only that "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."

The change to CDC's guideline for SARS-CoV-2 testing is the second in less than a month. In late August, the agency modified its position to say people who did not display any symptoms for COVID-19, the disease caused by SARS-CoV-02, did not need to be tested, though it stopped short of saying they shouldn't be tested.

That change confused and upset many in the healthcare community, who said that it was especially important to test patients who may be infected with the coronavirus, even if they showed no symptoms, in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

On Thursday, The New York Times reported that the August change in CDC's guideline was written and posted to CDC's website by officials in the US Department of Health and Human Services in spite of the objections of CDC scientists.

"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," Infectious Diseases Society of America President Thomas File, Jr., said in a statement. "We urge officials to support the work of controlling this pandemic by following medical guidance of experts in the field."