Durban – If you test positive for Covid-19, you need to self-isolate for 10 days. According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NCID), the recommended isolation period for patients with Covid-19 infection is reduced from 14 to 10 days.
The NICD said the recommendation was based on evidence that most patients with a mild Covid-19 infection continued to shed the virus from their upper airways for approximately 7-12 days.
Furthermore, the presence of detectable virus when testing does not necessarily imply infectiousness. It has been proven that in mild cases, virus cultures are generally only positive for 8-9 days after symptom onset.
The NICD said asymptomatic patients represented a conceptual challenge, since it was not possible to estimate where in the course of viral shedding they were at the point at which they tested positive.
“We therefore advise that an asymptomatic patient must remain in isolation for a period of 10 days following the date of their positive results.”
The duration of infectiousness in patients with severe disease is less well established. In general, patients with severe disease may continue to shed virus at higher levels for longer periods than patients with mild disease.
“To provide a buffer, it is recommended that such patients be de-isolated 10 days after clinical stability has been achieved, rather than 10 days after symptom onset. To illustrate this in simple terms, if a patient was admitted and placed on oxygen, we advise that when the oxygen supplementation is discontinued, the patient must remain in isolation for another 10 days. This continued isolation provides clinical comfort that the patient is no longer infectious,” the NICD explained.