How long can you test positive for COVID-19?

Even when the fever has subsided, the runny nose has stopped dripping, the formal five-day quarantine period has passed, and the 10-day precautionary phase has concluded, some individuals continue to test positive for Covid while feeling completely healthy.

If you find yourself in this circumstance, you may be at a loss for what to do, especially considering that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provide minimal advice on this subject. Most people self-test at home. Thus their findings are untracked; nevertheless, a pre-vaccine survey of Florida schoolchildren in 2020 revealed that 8.2% of high school students continued to test positive 9-14 days after their initial positive test.

As the country’s total case count continues to climb, even small percentages can harm millions of people: According to data from Johns Hopkins University, the total number of Covid cases in the United States has topped 85.7 million since the pandemic began, a likely undercount due to the use of at-home tests.

Here is what you must know about the occurrence and what to do if it occurs:

What to do if you continue to test positive after ten days

Positive Covid testing does not necessarily indicate contagiousness. Rapid tests detect certain protein fragments of the virus. However, these proteins do not cause infection by themselves. The same is true for PCR testing, which identifies the genetic material of a virus in your body.

To determine if positive test results indicate that a person is infectious, scientists cultivate samples from these tests in Petri dishes to determine if more viruses may develop, which would indicate that the virus is still alive and active. Recent research from Boston University, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, found that only 17 percent of individuals were likely contagious six days after their initial positive testing.

There is presently no method to determine which category you belong to. However, according to most specialists, if your symptoms have subsided, you likely no longer need to isolate yourself.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends isolating for five days after a positive test and releasing your quarantine after 24 hours without fever and improving symptoms. By the agency’s recommendations, you should continue to wear a mask until day 10 — a precaution in case you are still contagious.

“Follow CDC recommendations and wear a mask for the next five days,” she advises.

How long after exposure to COVID may a person test positive?

According to the CDC, the incubation period for COVID between two and fourteen days; however, the agency’s most recent recommendation proposes a five-day quarantine for people who not boosted but are eligible or unvaccinated. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that anyone who wishes to tested after exposure should do so five days after the exposure or if they develop symptoms.

Those boosted, vaccinated, and completely vaccinated but not yet eligible for a booster dose are exempt from quarantine. They must wear masks for ten days and undergo testing five days after exposure unless they exhibit symptoms.

Arwady stated that an additional seven-day test could be beneficial for people who have vaccinated and had a booster.

Positive does not make equal contagious

The period required to test negative after catching COVID-19 depends on the severity of the infection as well as the nature of the test. PCR tests that look for pieces of viral genetic material (RNA in the case of COVID-19) in our bodies and amplify them so that we can detect them are incredibly sensitive and can identify the presence of even a small number of viral fragments. This is because bits of viral RNA can persist in our bodies long after the infection has ended and the virus has been eliminated.

Several days after the initial infection, lateral flow tests that look for viral proteins termed antigens are less sensitive and less likely to yield a positive result. If a PCR test is positive, but an antigen test is negative, it is likely that we are not infectious and only have residual virus RNA.

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Unfortuitously, many people can test positive for COVID-19 for weeks or even months. Still, there is good news: even if they test positive, they are unlikely to be contagious and consequently unlikely to transmit the virus. However, if both a PCR and a protein-based antigen test yield positive results, we may still be infectious. This is because an extended presence of viral proteins indicates that the virus reproduces and produces more of its core material.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that individuals isolate themselves for ten days following the onset of symptoms (or from the time of diagnosis if asymptomatic) plus three days after the cessation of symptoms. There are exceptions to this rule: if a person exhibits symptoms for, for example, 30 days, they must be isolated until they are asymptomatic.

It is important to note that the World Health Organization (WHO) still recommends that vaccinated people who have COVID-19 symptoms or live close to someone who has COVID-19 exercise caution regarding social interaction, even though some countries have changed their national guidance in this regard. For more information click here

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