With the end of the state of health emergency caused by covid-19, the lives of Brazilians are starting to resume, including social events, parties and agglomerations of different types. Despite this, the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is still in circulation and it is necessary to understand how long the infection can remain in the body. On average, people who have had mild cases are free of the virus within 10 days.
However, the response may be different depending on a number of factors, such as the intensity of the infection, previous vaccination against covid-19 or the previous health status of the individual (with or without immunosuppression). In this scenario, self-tests can be a good option to “clear the doubt”.
Below, check out the most common questions about the transmission of the covid-19 virus and the time of isolation:
When does a person transmit the most Covid-19?
“We know that people tend to be more infectious at the beginning of the infection. With Ômicron [BA.1]most transmission occurs for one to two days before the onset of symptoms and for the next two to three days”, explains Harvard Health, in the United States, about the period of transmission.
Basically, the infected person is most likely to transmit the virus for 48 hours before symptoms start. In this way, “the use of masks, especially indoors, can help reduce the risk of someone infected, but not yet showing symptoms, infecting others without knowing it”, explains the division of health at Harvard University.
It is worth remembering that, according to Harvard Health, “practically one in four infections can be transmitted by individuals with asymptomatic infections. The proportion of asymptomatic transmission appears to be even higher with the Ômicron variant”.
In addition, peak transmission remains high for an additional three days from detection of illness, but risks are still there, on average, for up to 10 days from onset of symptoms, depending on the individual’s health status.
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “SaRS-CoV-2 RNA concentrations in upper respiratory samples decrease after the onset of symptoms.” For the health agency, transmission occurs “about a day before the onset of symptoms and declines within a week of the onset of symptoms, with an average period of infectiousness and risk of transmission between 2-3 days before and 8 days after.” the onset of symptoms”.
It is important to note that, despite the two-year pandemic, science is still investigating the behavior of the covid-19 virus and its variants. During this period, the consensus is not so well defined, and there may be some variations between the main indications of care.
How long does the virus stay in the body?
The ability of the covid-19 virus to be transmitted is “very low after 10 days of the onset of symptoms, except in people with severe covid-19 or moderately or severely immunocompromised”, explains the CDC, noting the average duration of acute infection. .
Despite the average 10 days of infection, some patients may have prolonged infections of the covid-19 virus and, in this period, they can potentially transmit the virus. This risk is identified in patients with severe immunosuppression, such as certain types of cancer, use of drugs that alter the functioning of the immune system, or people with uncontrolled HIV.
Recently, the case of a patient from London, UK, was considered the longest-lasting Covid-19 infection ever known. Because of an immunosuppressive condition, the individual lived with the infection for 505 days.
When is it safe to leave isolation?
“By the 10th day after the onset of symptoms of covid-19, most people will no longer be contagious as long as the symptoms continue to improve and the fever has disappeared. 10 days after the test, they are probably no longer contagious either.” However, if the fever continues during this period, the individual must remain in isolation, as there is still a risk of transmission.
Understand isolation in the USA
Despite this understanding of science, health authorities around the world have decided to accept part of the risk of transmission and consider that, in some cases, the person who has been infected can end isolation in about five days.
In the US, people with a COVID-19 diagnosis, regardless of vaccination status, must:
- Stay at home for 5 days, isolated from other people;
- If they have no symptoms or if the symptoms disappear after five days, they can resume activities outside the home;
- Wear masks when they are around other people; this is mandatory for another 5 days after the isolation time.
“With the shorter isolation period recommended for asymptomatic and mildly ill people with COVID-19, it is critical that people continue to wear properly fitted masks and take additional precautions for 5 days after leaving isolation,” the CDC explains.
In total, the person must maintain more active protective measures against the transmission of covid-19 for 10 days, as long as they do not show any symptoms for the disease.
It’s in Brazil?
In Brazil, the isolation of positive cases for covid-19 should last seven days, provided that the individual no longer has respiratory symptoms or fever at the end of the period. “Those who carry out testing (RT-PCR or rapid antigen test) for covid-19 with a negative result on the 5th day, will be able to leave the isolation, before the deadline of 7 days, provided they do not have respiratory symptoms and fever, for at least least 24 hours, and without the use of antipyretics. If the result is positive, it is necessary to remain in isolation for 10 days from the onset of symptoms”, completes the Ministry of Health.
Cure from covid-19?
The vast majority of covid-19 patients are completely cured within 14 days of the onset of infection. “Sometimes, [a recuperação é] a little longer, three weeks”, explains Alexandre Naime Barbosa, professor at the Universidade Estadual Paulista (Unesp). However, they do not report any other type of complication.
Now, some individuals may have prolonged symptoms of covid. “You can maintain some symptoms for up to 3 months”, says the infectologist. At this point, different complications can affect individuals such as respiratory tract or nervous system problems. The main cause is the inflammation caused by the virus in different parts of the body. However, the person is usually no longer infectious.
Finally, a small portion of individuals develop the syndrome known as long covid, in which the sequelae of the infection last from 3 to 6 months. In some patients, it may take an indefinite time, but the issue is still under study.
Source: CDC, Ministry of Health and Harvard Health