According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people infected with the coronavirus are most infectious in the days before and after symptoms appear. According to some experts, however, with omicron, that window of time may occur sooner.
This is because preliminary studies show that omicron causes symptoms three days after infection, which is faster than previous variants. According to prior research, patients infected with omicron could become contagious as quickly as a day after infection.
With old variants, people become contagious two to four days after infection. And they remain contagious a couple of days after their symptoms have subsided.
It’s too early to tell whether omicron’s shorter incubation period correlates to earlier contagiousness, according to researchers. However, it would explain the quick spread of the variant.
If possible, patients should test themselves three and five days following exposure, according to Dr. Amy Karger of the University of Minnesota Medical School.
“A lot of people are turning positive by day three,” Karger says, referring to omicron. “There’s basically an opportunity here to catch people earlier than you would with the other variants.”
It’s alright to wait until day five if you only have one test, according to Karger.
Individuals who have COVID-19 manifestations should get checked out as soon as possible.
Rapid tests are less sensitive than lab-developed tests, so they should be able to detect the virus by day three, if not sooner.
People who don’t show any symptoms usually have considerably lower virus levels, making it difficult to predict when or if they will become infected.
Those who test positive but have no symptoms should still isolate for at least five days, according to the current CDC recommendations. The agency was criticized for not mandating a negative test before leaving isolation, but officials claimed the step should be optional even after revising the standards.
People with symptoms should be isolated for at least 24 hours after their fever has gone away.
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