Testing positive for COVID post isolation is normal. Some people who test COVID positive even after their symptoms have subsided and their isolation periods have ended. Are these people, however, still contagious?
How long will you keep testing positive?
People tend to show positive on quick Covid-19 testing for six to ten days, according to Stephen Kissler, a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. On the other hand, outliers may test positive for more extended periods.
According to Kissler, some people can test positive for up to 14 days with fast testing and even longer with PCR tests, according to Alberto Paniz-Mondolfi, an associate professor at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine.
“You can still have positivity that lasts for weeks or even months,” Paniz-Mondolfi added, noting that positive PCR tests might last up to 60 days.
Some persons may continue to test positive because the weaker virus keeps replicating or because virus genomes are damaged, according to Benjamin TenOever, a microbiologist at NYU Grossman School of Medicine.
The omicron form is typically found in the upper respiratory tract, particularly in people who have been vaccinated and boosted. As a result, the back of the neck and nose may have more nucleocapsid protein. Furthermore, according to TenOever, damaged virus genomes can linger after the virus develops a “poor form” of itself.
When it comes to isolation, how long should you go?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reduced their Covid-19 isolation requirements for patients who tested positive for the virus to five days last month. “If you have no symptoms or your symptoms are resolving… you can leave your house,” the CDC said after those five days.
Many health professionals objected to the instructions, claiming that shortening the isolation period without obtaining a negative test could increase coronavirus transmission. The CDC’s latest guidelines were based on evidence that revealed most transmission happens “early in the course of illness, often in the 1-2 days before the beginning of symptoms and the 2-3 days after,” according to the CDC.
In response to criticism, the CDC defended its revised instructions, recommending that anyone who has access to a Covid-19 test and wants to take one do so near the end of their five-day quarantine. If the infected person’s antigen test is positive, the CDC recommends keeping them in quarantine until day 10. According to the rules, if the test is negative, the person can come out of isolation on day five but must iwear a well-fitting mask for another five days among people at home and in public.
So, what if a person tests positive and is quarantined until day 10 but then tests positive again after the prescribed isolation period has passed?
People are most infectious near the beginning of a Covid-19 illness, according to the CDC’s new guidance. So, by day eight, nine, or ten, “you still can disseminate to other people,” Kissler said, “but probably not as much as you did earlier in the course of your infection.”
“You should anticipate a low level of virus infection if you test antigen positive,” tenOever said. “You might be transmissible.”
While experts agree that people should isolate themselves until they no longer test positive, they also acknowledge that this may not be possible for everyone.
“You might be able to gradually reintegrate while still being aware of your contacts,” Kissler said. He recommended avoiding enclosed spaces with other people and wearing a mask, preferably a KN95.
Paniz-Mondolfi concurred separately, noting that after 10 days, “You’re good to go, and you’ll be even better if you continue to practice containment techniques. Continue to wear your mask. Continue to practice social separation.”
Are there any indications that indicate we’re contagious?
There doesn’t appear to be a clear link between a person’s symptoms and the amount of virus in their nose and throat, according to Dr. Julie Parsonnet, an infectious diseases epidemiologist at Stanford Medicine.
However, persons who have tested positive and are symptomatic are more likely to transmit the virus and should isolate at home to avoid infecting others.
“People whose symptoms aren’t improving, especially if they’re coughing and sneezing,” Parsonnet advised, “should stay at home until they feel better.”
When a person who is infected coughs or sneezes, they are releasing virus-carrying respiratory droplets into the air, which can spread the illness to others.
Researchers are still investigating whether and how symptoms relate to a person’s contagiousness.
“We don’t know exactly how symptom duration links to how long someone is contagious,” said Dr. John Carlo, the CEO of Prism Health North Texas and a member of the Texas Medical Association’s COVID-19 Task Force.
People with asymptomatic infections, albeit less likely than symptomatic persons to spread the sickness, can nevertheless transmit it to others, according to research.
It’s difficult to calculate how long asymptomatic people are contagious because it’s impossible to tell when and how long they’ve been infected, according to Parsonnet.
“Given the Omicron variant’s higher infectivity, the asymptomatic transmission may be more common, but it’s too early to draw that conclusion,” Bailey said.
Is it possible to tell if you’re still contagious?
Because there is no accurate or simple way to tell if you’re still contagious, health officials recommend isolating yourself at home for 5 to 10 days, depending on your symptoms.
After 5 days, those who are asymptomatic or improving are told they can stop being isolated but must continue wearing a mask around other people for another 5 days.
Those who aren’t improving after 5 days should continue isolated at home until their symptoms improve and their fever lowers, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)Trusted Source.
A PCR test to see if you’re still shedding the virus isn’t recommended by most infectious disease experts.
PCR assays are sensitive and can detect non-infectious viruses up to 90 days after infection.
Many doctors advise employing fast antigen testing since they detect high viral loads, which may or may not be related to a person’s infectiousness.
“It’s vital to remember that the current COVID-19 tests aren’t meant to determine whether or not someone is contagious.” They’re made to see whether someone has a COVID-19 infection, which is a little different,” Carlo explained.
Your omicron communication strategy
Prepare your Covid-19 communication plan with external and internal stakeholders, and make any necessary adjustments.
Due to constantly changing information and regulatory advice, communicating with stakeholders has become even more difficult as omicron spreads across the country. As a result, healthcare administrators must explain changing rules and provide updates to community members, patients, and staff about the pandemic’s status, rising case numbers, vaccine and booster availability, new medicines, internal regulations, and other topics.
Disclaimer – This information has been taken from relevant sources. However, we require you to please check the guidelines from the government and health authorities for regular updates on this variant and take all precautionary measures regularly.