The COVID-19 pandemic has affected the world for over a year now, and many people are still learning how to live and cope with the virus. One of the most important things to know about COVID-19 is how long you are contagious with the virus.
What is COVID-19?
COVID-19 is a highly infectious respiratory illness caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs, sneezes, or talks. The virus can also spread by touching a contaminated surface and then touching your face.
How long are you contagious with COVID-19?
If you become infected with COVID-19, you are contagious for a period of time, even if you do not show any symptoms. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), people with COVID-19 can be contagious for up to two days before they show any symptoms.
After symptoms develop, you are still considered contagious for up to 10 days after the onset of symptoms, or 10 days after your first positive COVID-19 test, if you do not have symptoms. However, people with severe illness or immunocompromised may be contagious for up to 20 days after symptom onset.
How do you know when you are no longer contagious with COVID-19?
The CDC recommends that people with COVID-19 must meet the following criteria before they can be around others:
- At least 10 days have passed since symptoms first appeared or your first positive COVID-19 test if you did not have symptoms.
- You have had no fever for at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications.
- Your other symptoms have improved.
If you have severe illness or a weakened immune system, you may need to isolate for a longer time.
What should you do if you have been exposed to COVID-19?
If you have been in close contact with someone who has COVID-19, you should quarantine for 14 days from the last time you were in contact with the infected person. If you develop symptoms, get tested immediately and self-isolate while waiting for the results.
How to protect yourself and others from COVID-19?
There are several measures you can take to protect yourself and others from COVID-19:
- Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, or use hand sanitizer if soap and water are unavailable.
- Wear a mask when you are around other people.
- Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
- Cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or the inside of your elbow.
- Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces daily.
COVID-19 is a highly infectious illness that people can be contagious with for up to 10 days after the onset of symptoms or a positive test result. However, people with severe illness or an immunocompromised condition may need to isolate for a longer time. It is important to take preventive measures to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.