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Here’s How Long You’ve Been Infected With The Latest Covid Variant

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No one wants to give Covid to their loved ones (or anyone). But determining how long you’re contagious isn’t an exact science, as it can vary from person to person.

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That’s why you may have a hard time figuring out whether you’re putting others at risk. However, there are rules you can follow and things you can know to help protect those around you — and ease other concerns about your infection, too.

Here, experts share guidelines for how long you may be able to spread Covid and when you are most contagious, including the viral strain that is currently dominant.

Most people remain contagious for about 10 days

It is not always clear how long a person remains contagious because, like many things with covidThe exact timeline depends on several factors, said Dr Stuart RayProfessor of Medicine and Infectious Diseases at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore.

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But, Ray said, the conventional wisdom is that you’re contagious and must be isolated for a full five days after your symptoms start — counting the first day of your symptoms as zero.

But keep in mind that you are not in the clear after five days.

“It is often said that you should wear a mask after this and try to protect others because it is difficult to be certain how long you are contagious,” Ray said.

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“That period often lasts 10 days,” he said — and once again, your The first day of symptoms is counted as day zero.

Long story short, you’re potentially contagious for about 10 days after symptoms begin. You should isolate for the first five days and wear a mask for at least six to 10 days.

but you are most contagious at certain points

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The phase when you’re most contagious begins about 48 hours before your positive test and ends five days after your symptoms begin, according to Dr Neha Vyasa family medicine doctor at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, He called this the “period of maximum infectivity”.

So, you’ll want to take extra precautions at this stage – though it’s hard to know if you’re sick before you have symptoms, which makes those first 48 hours really difficult.

Meanwhile, the amount of time between infection and symptoms has gotten shorter and shorter as Covid mutates, meaning that Omicron subtypes like XBB – currently the dominant strain in the US – can spread faster.

If you have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid, you can get yourself tested even before symptoms appear. Or, if you recently attended a crowded indoor event, you can take the test a few days later. Beyond that, there’s really no way of knowing you’re infected before symptoms appear.

And in the period after your illness, remember that you can still spread COVID, which is why it’s important to wear a mask for at least 10 days.

If you still have symptoms after 10 days, you can still spread the virus

Anyone whose symptoms persist past 10 days and who continues to test positive may likely Pass the virus to others. If you are like this, keep wearing a mask and avoid indoor places and events, Ray said.

“IIf you are immunocompromised or you actually had a (severe) Covid infection… you can be contagious for up to 20 days” after symptoms started, he added Diameter.

Long-term infectivity like this is rare, she stressed. But if you fall into either of those categories, talk with your doctor for further guidance.

If possible, you should self-isolate from others in your household for five days. After this it is necessary to wear a mask.

At-home antigen tests are a good way to tell if you’re still contagious.

Ray said it is not unusual for someone to test positive on a lab test weeks after a COVID-19 infection, “but it would be very unusual for someone to test positive on an antigen test weeks later.”

The antigen test is the type you may have picked up from a pharmacy or obtained from the government.

Ray said a positive antigen test is related to the virus’s ability to grow and infect. So if your antigen test is positive, you are potentially infectious.

And it works the other way too.

“We generally say that if your symptoms have completely resolved and your test is negative, then you are not likely to be infectious,” Ray said.

If you want to be extra cautious, you can do two COVID tests

If you’ve passed the 10-day mark and are no longer symptomatic, but you’re feeling concerned about potentially spreading the virus to a loved one, there are things you can do.

Vyas said, “You can get two Covid tests done at an interval of 48 hours.” “If they’re both negative, you can be pretty sure you’re not contagious anymore.”

He said most people would not need to do this as long as they followed the 10-day guidance. But if you’re worried about spreading the virus, this is a good tip.

If you live in a household with others, you should do what you can to protect them.

“If possible, an infectious person should use a separate bedroom and bathroom, especially during this five-day period (after symptom onset),” he said. Dr Ali Khanchief Medical Officer Oak Street Health,

When this is not possible, wear a well-fitting mask around other people in your household.

Khan said an infected person should have their own tableware and sheets, and they should avoid high-touch items.

“Don’t forget to wash your hands frequently,” Khan said—and this applies even to people who aren’t infected.

Lastly, for the safety of both yourself and your loved ones, make sure you are up to date on your COVID boosters.

“It’s definitely not too late to get the Covid and flu shots, as they will still curb severe symptoms, even if you’re still sick with the disease,” Khan said.

Experts are still learning about COVID-19. The information in this story is what was known or available at the time of publication, but guidance may change as scientists discover more about the virus. To stay up-to-date on health advice and cases in your area, visit gov.uk/coronavirus And NHS.UK

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