Q: Can they continue to pass the virus to others even if they are immune for some period of time?
A: If you had symptoms, you need to meet three criteria to come out of isolation: 1. 10 days from the day of the first symptoms, 2. No fever for 24 hours, and 3. Other symptoms are improving. If you tested positive but never developed symptoms, wait 10 days after the test date. In some special cases, like if you were hospitalized or have a compromised immune system, you may need to isolate for longer–ask your doctor.
While scientists are still learning about all the factors that may influence the period of infectiousness, CDC currently recommends the following for when individuals with COVID-19 can safely stop isolating from others:
If the person who was diagnosed with COVID-19 *developed symptoms*, they should isolate until
-10 days have passed since their symptoms first appeared, AND
-They have been fever-free without the use of fever-reducing medications for 24 hours, AND
-Their other symptoms of COVID-19 are improving (*aside from loss of smell or taste, which can sometimes persist for weeks), unless their healthcare provider recommends further testing.
If the person tested positive for COVID-19 (via a PCR-based test) but *never developed symptoms*, they should isolate until
-10 days have passed since the day they had the test performed that came back positive for COVID-19 (assuming no symptoms develop during that time), unless their healthcare provider recommends further testing.
If the person who was diagnosed with COVID-19 suffered *severe illness* or is *immunocompromised*, they should isolate until
-They speak with their healthcare provider, as some people meeting this criteria may need to isolate from others up to 20 days after symptoms first appear and may require testing to determine when it is safe for them to be around others.
All that said, once the isolation period ends, it is recommended that individuals who have had COVID-19 still continue to avoid close contact with those outside their household or social bubble. So, if you were not in the bubble of the person who had COVID-19 to begin with, continue following the #StaySMART principles in your interactions with them!
For more information on when it is safe to resume contact with someone who had COVID-19 see here.
If you do have close contact (i.e., spend > 15 minutes less than 6 ft apart or had other close contact) with an individual who has COVID-19 before the above criteria are met, you are considered exposed and should follow the protocol for quarantine. See our prior post on what counts as “exposure” to a COVID-19 case here.
A recent scientific article providing more insight into the likely period of infectiousness among those with COVID-19 can be found here. As new info becomes available, the Nerdy Girls will continue to provide updates on this topic!
As always, our posts are not meant to be taken as medical advice of any kind. Please consult a healthcare provider if you have questions about ending your isolation period after being diagnosed with COVID-19 or resuming contact with someone who has had COVID-19.