It is a question that is asked in homes around the world. Like other infectious diseases, recovery time can vary from person to person, but experts recommend that people follow the guidelines issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
"In general, it is now believed that about 10 days after your positive test, if you have no symptoms, no fever, you can be considered no longer contagious," said Dr. William Schaffner, an infectious disease expert at the Vanderbilt University in Tennessee.
The CDC says that a safe time for a person recovered from COVID-19 to be around others depends on several factors.
Those who have had COVID-19 and had symptoms can be around other people for at least 10 days after the onset of symptoms if they have been fever-free for at least 24 hours (without the use of fever-reducing medications). They should also wait until the symptoms have improved. For those who tested positive but had no symptoms, they can be around other people 10 days after testing positive.
Immunocompromised people should talk to their doctor about whether they need to be isolated for more than 10 days. Those in this category may be with others after receiving two consecutive negative covid-19 test results at least 24 hours apart between each test.
How to navigate the payback period
Experts say that recovery is complex and does not necessarily mean that a person feels completely fine.
"Symptoms can last for quite some time, so it's not a full recovery, it's resolution of the fever without the use of fever-reducing medications with progressive improvement or resolution of other symptoms," said Dr. Dean Blumberg. , chief of pediatric infectious diseases at the University of California Davis Children's Hospital.
"As with many other infectious diseases, some people recover very quickly and are not contagious to others, and then in other people, viral replication could persist," Blumberg said.
“In general, I would follow these guidelines as a starting point for when considering going out, but if you still have significant symptoms… for example coughing or sneezing, it would be uncomfortable to be in public, people are going to treat you differently. Even if you are not contagious, I am not sure people understand it. "
Even if a person has recovered from COVID-19, experts advise them to be cautious when away from home.
"Once someone is licensed under the CDC guidelines, they should take the same precautions as everyone else, as we just don't know how long immunity lasts," Dr. Jaime Friedman, a pediatrician in San Diego, told Healthline. "They can be out of isolation, but they must continue to keep their distance from others in public and wear a mask or chinstrap."
What about antibodies?
Although there have been reports of some people developing COVID-19 twice, experts say that if you were infected with the disease, you are likely to be immune for a period of time. But scientists still don't know how long antibodies to COVID-19 will last in a person who has developed the disease.
"When you get infected with a virus, your body's immune system responds to it, and it does so in a very distinctive way," Schaffner said. "The body creates proteins called antibodies that actually fight the virus by enveloping it and not allowing it to attach itself to any new cells." This will shut down your viral infection because the virus cannot spread further in your body. These antibodies are very specific, the immune system retains that memory and these antibodies persist in the bloodstream for variable periods of time. "
"Different virus antibodies last for different periods of time," he added. “We did not know how long the antibodies against the COVID virus would last. We believe that at least a year. "
You have to be careful.
Even if a person has recovered from COVID-19, experts advise against visiting other people indoors. “Be cautious when visiting someone inside the house. The virus spreads more easily when people are in close contact for an extended period of time, especially indoors, ”Friedman said.
"The safest contact with someone who you are not quarantined with at home is contact being outside, 6 feet away, with everyone wearing a mask," he added. “Significant exposure is considered within 2 meters of someone for 15 minutes or more. Physical contact such as hugging or kissing or sharing utensils is also considered significant exposure and should be avoided. " Blumberg argues that misinterpretation of social distancing guidelines has resulted in an increase in cases in the United States.
“At the end of May, when some of the social distancing guidelines in the United States were relaxed, many people interpreted that they no longer had to be careful and we saw an increase in visits between homes, parties, meetings, social events and I think that leads directly to the increase in the number of cases that we are seeing in many places. People don't follow science. Instead, they are following the policy and that has generated a lot of confusion, "he said.
Schaffner urges people to listen to the experts and follow their advice on physical distancing and wearing masks. “Listen to the public health authorities, listen to the doctors. Listen to people who have genuine knowledge about this. Unfortunately, the use of masks and the response to the virus has become very politicized in this country, ”he said.
Blumberg says that all people, whether they are currently infected with COVID-19, recovered, or a friend or family member of someone in recovery, must do their part to keep the community safe. “This is the new normal and people just need to get used to it. It is being a good member of the community. You care about others within your family, within your community, within your state and within your country to follow these recommendations and be hygienic. It is the safest and correct thing, "he said.