Even though COVID has changed the world and almost everyone has been forced to confront its impact, we really and truly understand the actual danger when we or our loved ones have been exposed to the virus and there is a risk that we might get infected.
That is when a series of questions pop up in our minds- all related to the threat posed by the coronavirus and how we can keep our family and friends safe. Even though we read COVID-related news almost every day, there might still be a few things you don’t know about it. But if you have been exposed, you should definitely familiarize yourself with a few facts to ensure that you don’t infect others near you.
Q1: What is the difference between asymptomatic and presymptomatic COVID?
Ans: You may often come across these terms in discussions regarding how communicable COVID is. Asymptomatic means without symptoms. So an asymptomatic COVID patient does not exhibit any of the known COVID signs such as dry coughing, sore throat, extreme exhaustion, or fever.
Presymptomatic COVID refers to the stage between exposure to the virus and the onset of the symptoms. Basically, this is the incubation period of the virus. The presymptomatic stage lasts for about 5-6 days from the time you were exposed to the virus.
Q2: Can asymptomatic patients pass on COVID to those near them?
Ans: Extensive contact-tracing surveys have found that asymptomatic COVID patients are less likely to be contagious than symptomatic patients. But that does NOT rule out the fact that asymptomatic persons CAN be contagious. Here’s why-
20% of all COVID patients are asymptomatic in the traditional sense, which means they do not show the usual signs of COVID. But doctors now believe that there might be ‘hidden symptoms’. There will be some change in their physical abilities during the course of the infection. For example, they might feel unusually fatigued. So, no one is truly ‘asymptomatic’. Every one in whose bodies the coronavirus is present is contagious.
Q3: Is the pre-symptomatic phase contagious?
Ans: Presymptomatic people are extremely contagious. Studies have found that the most viral shedding takes place during the incubation period right before the symptoms show up. In fact, droplets from the respiratory system of presymptomatic patients have more viruses per millimeter than a person with a full-fledged COVID infection.
Q4: How soon after exposure will the symptoms of COVID show up?
Ans: Generally, symptomatic patients will notice the signs of COVID within 5-6 days of exposure to coronavirus. There are usually no symptoms during the incubation period of COVID. But in rare cases, the incubation may take about 14 days, and only after these 2 weeks will the person see any symptoms.
Q5: Can COVID be transmitted through a common washroom?
Ans: Yes, COVID can spread through washrooms. If you think you’ve been exposed to COVID or if you have the infection, allot a washroom for your own use. No one else should use it.
Scientists have found traces of COVID in the urine and feces of infected people. You might say, “I always flush after using the commode.” But flushing sends a huge volume of invisible water spray into the air and this spray contains molecules of urine and feces. If someone uses the washroom right after you, they will be exposed to coronavirus.
Q6: What should I do if I’ve been exposed to someone with COVID?
Ans: If you came within 6 feet of someone who has been diagnosed with COVID, or someone in whose family there’s a COVID patient, then you need to go into self-isolation as soon as possible.
- Stay in your own room and come out only when it’s urgent. Wear a mask if you are likely to come into contact with others.
- Do not step out of your house.
- Use a separate washroom.
- Don’t let anyone come into your room.
- Use your own cutlery.
- Wash your clothes or bed linen separately.
- Keep everything you might need in your room so that you don’t have to go to other rooms in your home.
Q7: How long should I stay in isolation if I think I’ve been exposed?
Ans: Stay in isolation until you are sure that you don’t have the infection. That means isolation for the presymptomatic or incubation period of the virus. If you do have COVID, the symptoms are likely to show up in 5-6 days after exposure. If they don’t, it could mean-
- You don’t have COVID
- You have COVID but are asymptomatic
- The incubation period is longer
If you know for sure that you came in contact with a COVID positive person, you should consider getting tested if there are no symptoms after the incubation period. If there is no definitive proof that you were exposed and it is just a hunch, you can resume your earlier lifestyle after a week. But wear a mask when you are near your family members for 14 days just to be safe.
Q8: How long will I be contagious if I am infected with COVID?
Ans: According to scientists, the median recovery time for people with COVID is generally 2 weeks. People with severe COVID infection might need between 3-6 weeks to recover. You are contagious during this time. So, you need to stay in quarantine for the entire recovery period.
Educating ourselves regarding COVID and never going easy on hygiene is the best way to keep ourselves and all our loved ones safe.