When people contract the coronavirus, one of the most common doubts is whether they can no longer infect others. Here we tell you when you are no longer contagious with COVID-19.
The important thing to consider, experts say, is that each person and each case of coronavirus is unique. There are no hard and fast rules as to how sick a person will become or how long they will remain contagious.
The coronavirus has the particularity of being transmissible even before the infected person shows symptoms.
In general, the peak period of virus shedding begins about one to two days before the onset of symptoms and continues two to three days after. Although a person is less likely to transmit the virus later in the illness, it is still possible.
Research shows that people continue to shed viruses that can be grown in the lab for about eight days on average after testing positive. However, experts say it is highly unlikely to transmit the virus after 10 days, even if a person still tests positive.
How long should you stay in isolation if you have COVID-19?
The CDC is asking patients to self-isolate for at least five days. On Day 6, you can end isolation provided your symptoms have improved and you have been fever-free for at least 24 hours without taking fever medication.
On the CDC website, they have a calculator isolation and quarantine to help people understand this.
A potentially confusing point: Day 1 of your isolation, according to the CDC, is the day after you start experiencing symptoms or test positive. For example, if you have a sore throat on Monday afternoon, that is day 0 and Tuesday is day 1.
Even if you test negative, wear a properly fitted mask until day 10 if you must be around other people at home or in public and are not travelling.
Infectious disease experts have told the Washington Post they believe COVID-19 patients should be tested for negative antigens before leaving isolation, which gives results within minutes.
However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently leaves negative antigen testing as an option and does not explicitly recommend it.
If you decide to do a rapid home test several days after infection, the best approach is to use it near the end of the five-day window, the CDC says.
If you test positive after the five-day isolation period, you must continue to self-isolate for a full 10 days, per CDC guidelines.
Amy Barczak, an infectious disease expert at Massachusetts General Hospital, explained that if you have a negative rapid antigen test on or after day 5, “it’s unlikely to be contagious to other people.”
For people particularly concerned about transmitting the virus, further testing isn’t a bad idea. In symptomatic people, doctors sometimes recommend a quick second test to be sure.
Main source of information: The Washington Post.