I nonetheless have COVID-19 signs. Am I contagious?

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I still have COVID-19 symptoms. Am I contagious?

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With new information about the coronavirus released every week, it can be difficult to keep track of the details you need to keep your family safe.

Among other things: How long has the virus been contagious? Do I have to stay home while I have symptoms? Is it possible to get infected again?

Unfortunately there are no easy answers.

Doctors and researchers note that one of the most difficult aspects of treating the coronavirus is that it affects patients differently.

Some people have mild symptoms and may not even know they have COVID-19 if not tested, while others spend weeks in the hospital to recover.

In addition to the confusion, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in early August that people can continue to test positive and are non-infectious for up to three months after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

Doctors currently believe the virus is most contagious when symptoms appear. People who are otherwise healthy stay contagious for about a week, while people who are sick and have other health issues may take longer to clear the virus and are contagious for up to two weeks, said Thomas Fekete, chairman of the Medical Department in the University's Temple Katz School of Medicine.

For this reason, the CDC recommends staying home and staying away from others. until:

  • It has been 10 days since symptoms first appeared.
  • You walked for 24 hours without a fever or using any antipyretic drug.
  • Other symptoms improve.

What about people who have already had COVID-19? Are you aware or is it possible to get infected again?

Researchers in Hong Kong recently reported the first confirmed case of reinfection in a 33-year-old man who first tested positive in late March and contracted another strain of the virus four months later on a trip to Spain. Several reinfections have since been confirmed in other countries, including one in the US.

Experts disagree on the importance of these cases, and the CDC says more research is needed into how long immunity can last after infection.

Fekete said it was hard to know how common a new infection is because people can test positive for the virus long after it's contagious. Doctors would need to be able to test and compare the new and original virus samples to determine whether a second positive test was a new infection or a residue from a previous infection.

"It is something beyond the capacity of our congested labs that have difficulty doing normal tests," said Fekete.

Therefore, for the time being, it's important to keep wearing masks, washing hands, and keeping a safe distance from others – even if you've already had the virus and recovered.

Follow the latest news on the Coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak

© 2020 The Philadelphia Inquirer
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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I am still having COVID-19 symptoms. Am I contagious (2020, September 10th)
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