How long can you test positive for Covid and when are you contagious?


For more than two years, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought the world to a standstill as the virus spread across the globe.

While lockdowns and levels now seem like a distant memory, the virus is still with us.

Cases are starting to pick up again, with warnings that Covid will once again put pressure on the NHS this winter.

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The last major spike of the pandemic, while restrictions were still in place, came courtesy of Omicron. The variant quickly spread around the world after being discovered in southern Africa last November and has since spawned a series of sub-variants.

Omicron proved to be less severe but more transmissible than its predecessor Alpha and Delta variants, with the total daily number of cases in England skyrocketing to a then-pandemic high of 218,724 on January 4, before fading away, apart from a resurgence inspired by its first sub-variant, BA.2, in March.

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Since then, only the over-75s have received a second booster shot, meaning immunity could start to wane and the call for a new booster could be more widely offered.

The approval of Moderna’s new Omicron-specific jab is a welcome development for the UK in that regard, and the injection could ultimately play an important role in future vaccination campaigns.

Face masks are now much less common, which increases the risk of spread


Different types, different impact

What public health officials had to learn on the ground when that variant first arrived last winter was how it differed from the original Covid strain.

While the World Health Organization estimated that it took two days to two weeks for symptoms to manifest in people infected with the first strain of coronavirus, Omicron was found to incubate much faster, nearly three to five days.

“Recent analysis from the UK Health Security Agency suggests that the window between infection and contagiousness may be shorter for the Omicron variant than for the Delta variant,” then UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid told the House of Commons on Dec. 6, 2021.

That explained why the strain was able to spread so quickly and successfully, as the short incubation period gave patients a shorter time between suspecting they had contracted the virus and experiencing a flare-up, making them less likely to have a positive lateral flow. test result. be admitted in time to warn others, go into isolation and prevent transmission of the infection.

A shorter incubation period “makes a virus much, much, much harder to contain,” noted Jennifer Nuzzo, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, in The Atlantic Ocean that same month.

Another feature of Omicron that may have made it more difficult to detect than previous strains was that its symptoms were slightly different from the three primary indicators we should watch for in 2020: cough, fever, and loss of taste or taste. odor.

The NHS is bracing for another wave this winter

(PA wire)

Symptoms to watch out for

In contrast, early warning signs for the newer variety included a scratchy throat, lower back pain, a runny or stuffy nose, headache, muscle aches and fatigue, sneezing, and night sweats.

Omicron cases analyzed in the UK showed that patients recovered on average within five days to a week, although some symptoms such as coughing and fatigue were likely to last longer.

Shortness of breath, experienced by some patients, was often found to persist for up to 13 days after other symptoms resolved.

Covid patients are generally considered to be contagious to others from about two days before their first symptoms appear and for about 10 days afterward.

If you think you have symptoms linked to the coronavirus, current NHS advice is to have a lateral flow test and self-isolate at home for five days if you test positive to avoid passing it on to others (you should stay away from anyone who may be infected with the coronavirus). particularly vulnerable because of their age or a pre-existing condition for 10 days).

If you must go out in public, you are encouraged to wear a face mask, avoid crowded indoor areas, and wash your hands for at least 20 seconds.

If you are concerned about your symptoms or think they are getting worse you are advised to visit, dial 111 or call your local GP surgery.


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