If you’ve been exposed to someone with COVID and are watching for symptoms, what are some of the first signs you might have?
It’s a question many are asking as omicron cases increase across the country, and with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updating quarantine and isolation guidelines, which now vary depending on whether or not you have a symptomatic infection.
Here’s what we know so far:
Health officials say sore throats are still a reported symptom, particularly in cases of minor infections. Those with any flu- or cold-like symptoms must assume they have COVID until proven otherwise.
What other symptoms should I watch for after exposure to COVID?
With some cases of oomicron, especially superinfections in those who have been boosted and vaccinated, remaining mild, many are wondering how to tell if it’s a cold, flu, or COVID-19.
Those who are fully vaccinated do not necessarily get seriously ill and have a fever for days and difficulty breathing, but instead have a milder illness, such as a cold. But they still have the ability to transmit the virus to others.
Health officials said those who were not vaccinated were experiencing symptoms similar to those seen early in the pandemic.
Dr. Catherine Boyling, an infectious disease specialist and member of the Immunization Practices Advisory Committee, told NBC News last week that cough, congestion, runny nose and fatigue appear to be prominent symptoms with the omicron variable. But unlike Delta, many patients do not lose their taste or smell.
The evidence so far, according to Poehling, is anecdotal and not based on scientific research. She also noted that these symptoms may only reflect certain populations.
However, data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed that the most common symptoms by far are coughing, fatigue, congestion, and a runny nose.
In general, symptoms of COVID reported by the CDC include:
- fever or chills
- Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- Muscle or body aches
- New loss of sense of taste or smell
- sore throat
- Congestion or runny nose
- Nausea or vomiting
The CDC also has what it calls a “coronavirus self-checker” that allows people to answer a series of questions to determine if they should seek medical care.
“The Coronavirus Self-Checker is an interactive clinical assessment tool that will help individuals aged 13 or over, parents and caregivers of children aged 2 to 12 years old decide when to seek testing or medical care if they suspect that they or someone they know has. may have contracted COVID-19 or had close contact with someone with COVID-19.”
Here’s how to use it.
When can symptoms of COVID appear?
According to previous CDC guidelines, symptoms of COVID can appear anywhere from two to 14 days after someone has been exposed to the virus.
Anyone showing symptoms should be tested for COVID-19.
Some people may never have any symptoms, although they can still spread the virus.
A person is also considered contagious before symptoms appear.
When are people with COVID most contagious?
The CDC says its guidance has been updated to reflect mounting evidence that transmission of COVID-19 often occurs one to two days before symptoms appear and within two to three days after that.
For those without symptoms, CDC guidelines state that they are considered contagious at least two days before they test positive.
When should you contact the doctor?
The CDC urges those who have or may have COVID-19 to watch for emergency warning signs and seek medical care immediately if they experience symptoms including:
- breathing difficulties
- Constant pain or pressure in the chest
- new confusion
- Inability to wake up or stay awake
- Pale, gray, or blue skin, lips, or nail beds, depending on skin tone
“This list is not all possible symptoms,” the CDC says. “Please contact your medical provider for any other symptoms that are severe or worry you.”
You can also notify the operator that you think you or someone you care about has the COVID virus.
How long can a test result come back positive after exposure to COVID?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the incubation period for COVID is between two and 14 days, although the latest guidance from the agency suggests a five-day quarantine for those who are not boosted, but are eligible or not immune. Those looking to undergo post-exposure testing should do so five days after exposure or if they begin the trial, the CDC recommends.
Those who have been boosted and vaccinated, or those who have been fully vaccinated and are not yet eligible for a booster dose, do not need to be quarantined, but must wear masks for 10 days and also get tested five days after exposure, unless they have symptoms .
However, for those who have been vaccinated and boosters but are still looking to be vigilant, health experts say an additional test in seven days can help.
What is the best time to test after exposure?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention states that anyone who has been exposed to someone with COVID should get tested five days after exposure, or as soon as symptoms appear.
The guidance states that “if symptoms develop, individuals should immediately quarantine until a negative test confirms that the symptoms are not attributable to COVID-19.”
Although incubation times may change, experts still advise those who test early to continue testing even if they get negative results.
How long should you quarantine or isolate?
First things first, those who believe they have been in contact with someone with COVID and are not immune should quarantine. Those who test positive should be isolated, regardless of vaccination status, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Here’s the difference between the two:
Those who have been within six feet of a person with COVID for a cumulative total of at least 15 minutes over a 24-hour period must self-quarantine for five days if they have not been vaccinated, or if they have been out of a second vaccine dose for more than six months, according to the CDC updated guidance released Monday.
Once this period is over, they must engage in strict mask use for an additional five days.
Previously, the CDC said that people who have not been fully vaccinated and who have been in close contact with an infected person should stay at home for at least 10 days.
Before Monday, fully vaccinated people — defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as having taken two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine — can be exempted from quarantine.
Those who have received the full vaccination and boosters do not need to be quarantined if they have been in close contact with someone with COVID, but they must wear a mask for at least 10 days after exposure. The same goes for those who have been fully vaccinated and who are not yet eligible for the booster vaccine.
People who test positive for COVID should stay home for five days, the CDC said Monday, changing guidance from the previously recommended 10 days.
At the end of the period, if you have no symptoms, you can return to normal activities but you must wear a mask everywhere – even at home around others – for at least five more days.
If symptoms persist after five days of isolation, stay at home until you feel better and then start wearing a mask for five days at all times.
How do you calculate the isolation period?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Day 0 is the first day you have symptoms.” This means that day one is the first full day after symptoms appear.
For those who have tested positive for COVID but do not have symptoms, Day 0 is the day of a positive test. Those who develop symptoms after a positive result should start their calculations over, however, it becomes day 0 and then the first day of symptom onset.
Do you need to get tested out of isolation or quarantine?
For those who test positive for COVID and are required to be isolated for the five days without symptoms, there is currently no requirement to be tested before seeing people again, according to the latest CDC guidelines.
CDC guidelines state that “if an individual has access to a test and wants to be tested, the best approach is to use an antigen test near the end of the five-day isolation period.” “If the test result is positive, you must continue to isolate until the 10th day. If the test result is negative, you can end the isolation, but continue to wear a well-fitting mask around others at home and in public until the 10th day.”
Also, the advice for those who tested positive and experienced symptoms does not indicate the condition of the test, but instead that the person should remain “fever-free for 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medication” and other symptoms should improve before their isolation ends, which must It lasts for at least five days.
The guidance states that asymptomatic and asymptomatic people should continue to wear masks around others for an additional five days.
However, the directions are different for those in quarantine.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, those who have been exposed to COVID and who develop symptoms should get tested immediately and go into isolation protocols until they receive their results and if they are positive.
Those who are asymptomatic should be tested at least five days after their exposure and, if negative, can leave their home but should continue to wear masks until the 10-day mark.
Why do you need to test out of isolation?
The CDC notes that the tests are “best used early in the course of the disease to diagnose COVID-19 and are not authorized by the FDA to assess duration of infection.”
The CDC website reads: “While a positive antigen test likely means that a person has a transmissible virus and can infect others, a negative antigen test does not necessarily indicate the absence of a transmissible virus.” “As such, regardless of the test result, appropriate mask wear is still recommended.”
The latest CDC guidance came as many experts expected to add testing requirements, but it also comes at a time when a nationwide testing shortage is being reported.
“I don’t think clarification helped at all and I think it only made matters worse,” emergency physician Dr. Lena Wayne, a former health commissioner in Baltimore, said in an interview with CNN. “I think they should be honest and say they can’t do it because they don’t have enough tests.”
What type of test should you use if you want to test before leaving seclusion?
The CDC recommends antigen testing for those looking to get tested before leaving isolation.
But Massachusetts updated its testing guidelines on Tuesday, with Governor Charlie Baker saying that at-home tests are now acceptable in most cases.
The governor said that DPH guidance makes clear that in most cases rapid antigen tests should be sufficient for schools, employers and childcare centers that require people to be tested in order to return after exposure or infection, and that PCR tests should not be ordered. .
“Rapid tests are, in most cases, a very good alternative to PCR tests,” Becker said.
What if I test positive using a home test?
Those who test positive using a home test are required to follow the latest CDC guidelines and report results to their health care provider, who is responsible for reporting test results to the state health department.
According to health experts, people should assume test results are accurate and should be isolated from others to reduce the risk of spreading the virus.
When can you be around other people after you have COVID?
If you have symptoms, the CDC says you can be around others after you’ve been isolated for five days and stop showing symptoms. However, you should continue to wear masks for five days after your symptoms have passed to reduce risks to others.