When Are COVID-19 Patients Most Infectious?

March 2, 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic has ushered in a whirlwind of uncertainties and questions. For example—where exactly did the novel coronavirus come from? How effective are masks? And most importantly, when will this all be done and over with? We here at PhysicianOne Urgent Care can’t provide answers to all of these burning questions, but we can offer some insight regarding one of today’s most-discussed topics: When are COVID-19 patients most infectious?

What We Know So Far

The novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2—which is responsible for the respiratory illness we know as COVID-19—is still a relatively new virus that researchers are learning more about every day. Here are a few key observations about COVID-19’s contagious period that the general medical community acknowledges as of February 2022:

  • People who have COVID-19 can transmit it to others two to three days before symptoms develop.
  • People who have COVID-19 are most contagious one to two days before symptoms develop.
  • COVID-19 is still considered highly contagious up to three days after symptoms occur.

Here’s where things get complicated—COVID-19 doesn’t always cause noticeable symptoms. With this in mind, the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC) currently recommends an isolation period of at least five days after receiving a positive test for asymptomatic individuals. People with symptoms are advised to isolate for at least five days from the date symptoms first occurred (consider the first day of symptoms to be day zero).

What are the Symptoms of COVID-19?

The symptoms of COVID-19 may appear two to 14 days after exposure to SARS-CoV-2 and can range from barely noticeable to severe. The most common symptoms of COVID-19 include:

  • Cough
  • Fever or chills
  • Muscle or body aches
  • Fatigue
  • Shortness of breath
  • Loss of taste or smell
  • Sore throat
  • Runny nose or congestion
  • Headache
  • Diarrhea
  • Nausea or vomiting

Some cases of COVID-19 can cause life-threatening complications. Be sure to go to the nearest hospital emergency room or call 911 (and inform the operator of possible COVID-19 exposure) if any of the following symptoms occur:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Sudden confusion
  • Persistent chest pain or pressure
  • Loss of consciousness or trouble staying awake
  • Skin, lips, or nail beds that appear gray, pale, or blue (depending on skin tone)

Virtual Visits for COVID-19 Patients

Thankfully, the majority of people with COVID-19 do not experience life-threatening complications, but even mild symptoms can make you feel uncomfortable and prevent you from sleeping well. If you’re stuck at home with COVID-19 and want to discuss treatment options with a medical professional, PhysicianOne Urgent Care has just the solution. Our virtual visits allow patients to consult “face-to-face” with knowledgeable clinicians from the safety of home and receive important medical guidance that can help them feel better, faster.

Scheduling a telemedicine appointment with PhysicianOne Urgent Care is simple. Just click the red “Book a Virtual Visit” button at the top of this page, select your state, and choose a date and time that works for your schedule. Our telemedicine services are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week! If you have any questions, contact our friendly team today at 860-650-3848.

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