Have you battled the coronavirus infection, heeded the expert’s advice to self-isolate, and lived to tell the tale? Congratulations!
Whether it’s a confirmed case, or you just strongly suspect you had COVID-19 but didn’t (or couldn’t) get a test, getting over the infection has to be a HUGE relief to you and your loved ones.
But new research offers a little bit of a reality check. There’s still reason for caution.
More importantly, there’s one critical step EVERYONE who has recovered needs to consider to be sure that the battle is TRULY over. And that it’s safe to be around your family again (especially vulnerable members).
And it’s not anything you’ve heard before.
If you’ve had the coronavirus recently, it’s important to take this action now. And if you haven’t had the infection, it’s something to keep in mind if you ever do get sick.
How long should you self-isolate?
The new report isn’t for the sickest among us who were already under close watch in a hospital. If you were hospitalized and received professional medical care, you would’ve been cleared and given explicit instructions when sent home.
It’s for the “rest of us.”
It’s for the millions of Americans who have the infection and are told to self-isolate at home, away from family, until they feel better. As well as for the millions more who suspect they have the coronavirus but are told by a doctor to stay home and not even get a test unless it gets worse.
In those cases, it’s not always clear when it’s safe to come out from your quarantine and join the rest of your family.
And the media and so-called experts aren’t helping much, either. Turn on the news or go online, and you’ll find the estimates for the number of days you’re capable of spreading the infection are all over the place. They range from several days to two weeks to “two negative tests,” and that’s assuming you can even get a test in the first place.
1 month OR 2 negative tests
But the new study out of Italy – one of the earliest virus hotspots – finally puts some solid numbers on the table.
It takes an average of…
- 31 days from the 1’st positive test to a totally clear negative one
- 36 days from first symptoms to being completely clear of the virus
In other words, if you’ve had a negative test in LESS than that time, you shouldn’t ASSUME you’re safe.
The study finds more than one in four of those tests turn out to be false negatives. Meaning the virus victim still actually has COVID-19 despite the test results.
That highlights the importance of multiple tests when possible. You should aim for a second negative tests after four weeks before deciding you’re in the clear and no longer need to self-isolate.
And if you can’t get those multiple tests… or if it’s simply impractical to do so… then you may need to consider waiting a month before you emerge from quarantine. Because even if you feel fine, you could potentially still pass on the virus.
This is just one study, of course. And more research is needed to confirm the findings. But it isn’t the first time we’ve seen evidence of false-negative coronavirus tests. And this study offers some much-needed guidance that can help us keep our loved ones and other vulnerable folks safe.