The National Collegiate Athletic Association said its new COVID-19 guidance reflected the spread of the Omicron variant ©Getty Images

The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in the United States has updated its COVID-19 guidance for winter sports to reflect the spread of the Omicron variant, including a revision of its definition of "fully vaccinated" individuals and advice on quarantine and isolation periods.

Individuals who have received one dose of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine the two months prior or two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine in the previous five or six months respectively, as well those who have received a booster jab, will now be considered "fully vaccinated".

A COVID-19 infection in the previous 90 days also qualifies an individual for this status.

It is recommended that student-athletes and coaches who test positive should isolate for five days or until "symptoms are resolving", and either wear masks around others for a further five days or take a test.

Close contacts deemed fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine should they come into contact with someone who tests positive for the virus, although they are encouraged to wear a mask around others when not training or competing for the following 10 days and take a test on day five.

Those who are not fully vaccinated are advised to quarantine at home for five days if they are a close contact, ending their isolation either with a negative test or wear a mask for an additional five days.

The definition of
The definition of "fully vaccinated" individuals has been updated in the latest National Collegiate Athletic Association COVID-19 guidance ©Getty Images

The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention last month updated its guidance on the isolation period for individuals with a confirmed case of COVID-19, halving it from 10 days to five.

The NCAA's guidance was developed following consultation with its COVID-19 Medical Advisory Group, the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine Working Group and the Autonomy 5 Medical Advisory Group.

The organisations claimed the new guidance is designed "to be consistent with guidance published by the Federal Government and its health agencies and to reflect the relevant scientific and medical information available at the time of print."

Brian Hainline, the chief medical officer at the NCAA, explained that the new guidance takes account of the more transmissible Omicron variant.

"The Omicron variant has presented another surge of cases across the country," Hainline said.

"This guidance was designed to align with the latest public health directives.

"Given how the pandemic continues to evolve, it's important that staff on member campuses continue to work with their local and state health officials on protocols most suitable for their locations."

The US has recorded more COVID-19 cases and deaths than any other country since the beginning of the pandemic with more than 56 million infections and almost 825,000 deaths.