Home Health What to Do If You Get COVID-19 Earlier than the Holidays

What to Do If You Get COVID-19 Earlier than the Holidays

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The dreaded situation has occurred: you’ve examined optimistic for COVID-19 on the worst time, with holiday travel, parties, or family gatherings just days away. Does this imply your plans are doomed?

Even practically three years into the pandemic, the reply is surprisingly sophisticated.

The U.S. Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC) says most individuals with gentle COVID-19 can end isolation 5 full days after taking a optimistic take a look at or the start of signs, so long as they’ve been fever-free for twenty-four hours and their different signs are enhancing. The CDC considers the day you took your optimistic take a look at or developed signs to be day zero; your five-day isolation interval begins the following day.

That mentioned, there’s a distinction between ending isolation and flying to attend an enormous vacation gathering. By day 10, the CDC recommends staying away from folks at excessive threat of extreme COVID-19, reminiscent of those that are aged or immunocompromised. If you can be round others, the company says to put on a high-quality masks, reminiscent of an N95 or KN95. You possibly can ditch the masks earlier than day 10 if you happen to take a look at unfavorable on two separate antigen exams taken 48 hours aside, the CDC says.

That pair of unfavorable outcomes isn’t assured, even after 5 days of isolation. In a latest JAMA Community Open study, 80% of individuals with symptomatic COVID-19 throughout the first Omicron surge tested positive on rapid tests for longer than 5 days.

In brief: you might nonetheless take a look at optimistic, and doubtlessly stay contagious, after an preliminary five-day isolation. What does that imply to your vacation plans? We requested two specialists—Dr. Peter Chin-Hong, a professor of medication on the College of California, San Francisco, and Dr. Tara Bouton, an assistant professor on the Boston College College of Drugs who has researched COVID-19 isolation periods—to weigh in on a number of situations.

In case your plans fall inside 5 days of testing optimistic

Keep house, cancel all journey, and join with family members nearly. This recommendation could be onerous to listen to, particularly across the holidays, but it surely’s “universally agreed on,” Chin-Hong says.

If it’s been longer than 5 days and also you’re nonetheless testing optimistic

In case your signs haven’t improved after 5 days, the CDC says it is best to stay in isolation.

For those who really feel high-quality however are nonetheless testing optimistic past 5 days, there’s an opportunity you’re nonetheless contagious. “The clear steerage is that you just shouldn’t be unmasked round others,” Bouton says. If in case you have your coronary heart set on attending a vacation gathering, the most secure transfer is to put on a high-quality masks the entire time.

That’s particularly necessary if you must journey by aircraft, bus, or prepare to get to the occasion. For those who examined optimistic 10 or fewer days in the past and haven’t acquired your pair of unfavorable take a look at outcomes, the CDC says not to use public transportation until you’ll be able to stay masked the entire time. When deciding whether or not to journey, Bouton recommends pondering not simply of your plans, however of everybody else who shall be touring alongside you. “Would you need your grandmother sitting subsequent to [a person testing positive] on an airplane?” Bouton asks.

If it’s been longer than 5 days and also you’re testing unfavorable

Below CDC steerage, you want a pair of unfavorable antigen take a look at outcomes, acquired 48 hours aside, to take away your masks round others earlier than day 10. However is it okay to unmask earlier than then if you happen to take a look at unfavorable as soon as?

It “depends upon the corporate you retain,” Chin-Hong says. For those who’re planning to spend the vacations with folks at excessive threat of extreme illness, it’s in all probability good to both look forward to a second unfavorable take a look at or hold your masks on via day 10.

However “if you happen to’re going to hang around with simply faculty mates and also you’re unfavorable on day seven, I’d really feel high-quality being regular with them, with out carrying a masks,” Chin-Hong says. (It’s nonetheless a good suggestion to tell everybody you propose to see forward of time and gauge their threat tolerance earlier than you take away your masks.)

For those who’re testing unfavorable however have lingering signs, it’s clever to be additional cautious round susceptible folks, Chin-Hong provides. “For those who simply have a lingering cough, that’s in all probability not sufficient for me to not see grandma,” he says. “I’d put on a masks after I’m in shut proximity, however I wouldn’t go loopy.”

For those who skilled Paxlovid rebound

The antiviral Paxlovid can drastically scale back high-risk people’ probabilities of dying or changing into hospitalized in the event that they catch COVID-19. However some individuals who take the drug expertise what’s generally known as “Paxlovid rebound“: they take a look at unfavorable, then take a look at optimistic once more shortly thereafter. It’s doable to be contagious throughout your rebound part, Bouton says—so if it occurs to you, you need to be “fascinated with extending your isolation interval.”

If it’s been greater than 10 days and also you’re nonetheless testing optimistic

It’s pretty unusual that somebody who just isn’t immunocompromised would take a look at optimistic on an at-home take a look at for longer than 10 days, but it surely does occur. (This situation is extra widespread with PCR exams, which might detect even tiny fragments of the virus.)

“I often inform folks, ‘Don’t even hassle to check after day 10,’” Chin-Hong says. Except you’re immunocompromised, you’re probably not contagious at this level, even when your exams are coming again optimistic, Bouton agrees.

Extra Should-Reads From TIME

Write to Jamie Ducharme at jamie.ducharme@time.com.

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