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How long are you contagious with COVID?

Andrew Bellingham

Andrew Bellingham

Pharmacist | 20+ Years | BPharm | Dip Clin Pharm

COVID-19, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, emerged in late 2019 and quickly spread worldwide. Although it’s no longer considered a pandemic, the virus still poses a danger, especially to the vulnerable, such as the elderly and those with weakened immune systems.

It’s crucial to self-isolate if you have COVID-19 to protect the people around you. Even if you feel fine, you can still spread the virus, potentially causing severe illness in others. By isolating yourself, you help prevent the virus from spreading, keeping your community safer.

How long is COVID contagious?

COVID-19 is contagious from the moment symptoms start, and even before symptoms appear. The virus is most easily spread during the first few days of infection. According to health experts, people with COVID-19 are usually contagious for at least 10 days after their symptoms begin.

For most people, self-isolation should last for at least 5 days from the onset of symptoms, followed by another 5 days of wearing a mask around others. If you still have symptoms after 5 days, you should continue to self-isolate until you feel better and have been fever-free for at least 24 hours without using fever-reducing medications.

Those who are severely ill or have weakened immune systems may remain contagious for a longer period. In such cases, a doctor or pharmacist can offer specific guidance on the duration of isolation.

Frequently asked questions about COVID-19

How long should I self-isolate if I test positive for COVID?

You should self-isolate for at least 5 days from the onset of symptoms. Continue to wear a mask around others for an additional 5 days to prevent spreading the virus.

When am I no longer contagious with COVID?

You are generally no longer contagious with COVID-19 10 days after symptoms begin, provided you have been fever-free for 24 hours without medication and other symptoms are improving.

Can you spread COVID if you are asymptomatic?

Yes, you can spread COVID-19 even if you are asymptomatic. Asymptomatic people can still carry and transmit the virus to others, making it important to follow public health guidelines.

A photo of a negative COVID test taken after someone has self-isolated and kept vulnerable people safe.

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