Mild COVID-19 still infectious five days after symptoms begin

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Most people with mild COVID-19 are still infectious five days after symptoms begin, a study suggests, throwing into question current NHS guidance on how long to avoid contact with others.

Research by Imperial College London found two thirds of participants were still infectious at five days and a quarter were still infectious at seven days.

Current NHS guidance is that people should try to stay at home and avoid contact with others for five days.

There is no longer a legal requirement to self-isolate if you test positive for COVID-19.

The new study comes after another found that most people who were infected with the Omicron variant didn’t even realise they had COVID-19.

The research is the first to unveil how long infectiousness lasts for after natural COVID-19 infection in the community.

The study team conducted detailed daily tests from when 57 people were exposed to the virus to look at how much infectious virus they were shedding throughout their infection.

They found:

  • Average duration of infectiousness was five days
  • Only one in five participants were infectious before COVID-19 symptoms began
  • Two-thirds of cases were still infectious five days after their symptoms began
  • One-quarter were still infectious at seven days
  • Lateral flow tests do not reliably detect the start of infectiousness, but can be used to safely shorten self-isolation

Read more via Sky News

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