How long are you contagious with COVID? The incubation period has changed – NBC Chicago

COVID’s incubation period has changed with the extra-contagious BA.4 and BA.5 omicron subvariants, Chicago’s top doctor says, but what does that mean for how long you’re contagious? ?

During a Facebook Live last month, Chicago Department of Public Health Commissioner Dr. Allison Arwady reported that recent studies have shown the incubation period for COVID has dropped to three days with variants recent.

“So if you go back to the alpha, beta, delta variant – in the beginning it was an incubation period of about five days on average. So if you were exposed to COVID, on average we were seeing people take about five days for someone to end up testing positive – and remember that went from four to five, to 10, to 14,” she said. “The reason…we only use 10 days now is because that timeframe has gotten shorter. And so more recently with BA.4, BA.5, it’s up to about three days now. So on average people test positive around 3 days later, but you can have someone positive up to 10 days.”

Arwady said most elements of COVID evolve faster with the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.

“This is great news from a control perspective and because one of the biggest challenges of COVID is that … when the incubation period is long you can get infected with COVID, potentially have a lot of time before I have significant symptoms and he’ll air it,” she said. “So it’s good news to see this incubation period shorten.”

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a person with COVID-19 is “considered contagious two days before they develop symptoms, or two days before their positive test date if they don’t have symptoms.” .

Regardless of the symptoms, people who test positive are advised to take specific precautions for at least 10 days.

At the same time, the virus itself is spreading faster with the now-dominant strains, leading to more upper respiratory tract symptoms, Arwady said.

So what protocols should you follow?

Here is a breakdown:

Do you need to quarantine yourself?

The CDC has previously said that if people who are not up to date on their COVID-19 vaccinations come into close contact with someone who tests positive, they should stay home for at least five days. Now the agency says home quarantine is not necessary, but it is urging such people to wear a high-quality mask for 10 days and get tested after five.

When do you need to self-isolate?

According to the CDC, regardless of vaccination status, you should isolate yourself from others when you have COVID-19. You should also self-isolate if you are sick or think you have COVID-19 but are awaiting test results.

It’s important to note that if you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, the Food and Drug Administration now recommends that you take three home tests instead of two to make sure you’re not infected.

The new guidelines apply to people without symptoms who believe they have been exposed.

Previously, the FDA had advised doing two rapid antigen tests over two or three days to rule out infection. But the agency says new studies suggest the protocol may be missing too many infections and could lead to people spreading the coronavirus to others, especially if they don’t develop symptoms.

How long do you need to self-isolate?

If you test positive for COVID-19, the guidelines say you should stay home for at least five days and isolate yourself from other people in your home. You are probably most contagious during those first five days.

When you end isolation, you should still avoid being around those most at risk until at least the 11th day.

After ending isolation, you will also be required to wear a mask until day 10, as per guidelines. The CDC also notes, however, that if you have access to antigen tests, “you should consider using them.”

“With two sequential negative tests 48 hours apart, you can remove your mask before day 10,” the guide says, adding that if your antigen test results are positive, “you can still be infectious.”

Those who continue to test positive should continue to mask up.

“You should continue to wear a mask and wait at least 48 hours before having another test,” recommends the CDC. “Keep taking antigen tests at least 48 hours apart until you get two sequential negative results. This may mean you need to keep wearing a mask and testing beyond the 10th day.”

If your symptoms get worse or come back after the isolation ends, you will need to start your isolation again on Day 0, according to the guidelines.

How to calculate isolation time?

The CDC says isolation for those with COVID is counted in days, but it depends on whether you have symptoms.

If you have no symptoms:

  • Day 0 is the day you were tested (not the day you received your positive test result)
  • Day 1 is the first full day following the day you were tested
  • If you develop symptoms within 10 days of testing, the clock restarts at day 0 on the day symptoms first appeared.

If you have symptoms:

  • Day 0 of isolation is the day symptoms first appeared, regardless of when you tested positive
  • Day 1 is the first full day after the day your symptoms started

What does isolation include?

  • Wear a high-quality mask if you must be around other people at home and in public.
  • Do not go to places where you cannot wear a mask.
  • Do not travel.
  • Stay home and separate from others as much as possible.
  • Use a separate bathroom, if possible.
  • Take steps to improve ventilation in the home, if possible.
  • Do not share personal household items, such as cups, napkins, and utensils.
  • Monitor your symptoms. If you have an emergency warning sign (such as difficulty breathing), seek emergency medical attention immediately.

What do you need to do to end isolation?

If you haven’t had any symptoms, you can end isolation after day 5, according to the CDC.

However, if you have had symptoms, you can only end the isolation after the 5th day if:

  • You are fever-free for 24 hours (without the use of anti-fever medications)
  • Your symptoms improve

If you still have a fever or your other symptoms haven’t improved, continue to self-isolate until they improve, the guidelines say.

The severity of your symptoms may also play a role.

If you have had moderate illness – such as shortness of breath or difficulty breathing – or severe illness, including hospitalization due to COVID-19, or have a weakened immune system, you should self-isolate until day 10.

If you have had a serious illness or have a weakened immune system, you will want to consult your doctor before ending isolation as you may need a virus test to do so.

NBC Chicago

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