When the pandemic first started in India around the beginning of 2020, it took everyone by surprise.
With passing time, now we know more about what to expect and how to keep safe. All this pandemic ‘experience’ may make it easier to adapt. That said, learning about the pandemic and taking measures will effectively mitigate the virus’s harmful effects while also keeping you safe. It’s important to keep up-to-date so as to stay well-prepared.
Amidst this rise in the Omicron variant, let’s look at some of the best practices to follow. By the end, you will have an answer to all your queries.
1 When is a person most contagious?
Ans: When someone is exposed to the virus, they’re at risk of infection and well as infecting others around.
In case of infection, symptoms typically show up between 5 to 10 days. However, research shows that a person is contagious two days before and three days after they develop symptoms. Several researchers also say that this is the peak time of transmission. It’s best to take precautionary measures like isolation to reduce the spread of the infection.
2. When are you considered a close contact?
Ans: ‘Close contact’ means someone who is in contact with you (within 6 feet) for over 15 minutes. This contact should have been in an indoor location 2 days before they were infected or before their positive test was taken if they don’t show any symptoms.
In case you’re fully vaccinated, following a close contact, there’s no need to quarantine. However, after exposure, you must test yourself after 5 to 7 days or if you develop symptoms.
3. What should you do if you’re identified as a close contact?
Ans: If you’re identified as a close contact, the first thing you should do is quarantine yourself and then take a test.
4. When should you take a test if a family member you live with tests positive?
Ans: Firstly, you should immediately isolate the person who tests positive. The rest of the family should take a test 5 to 7 days after the last contact with the positive individual. In case the person who tested positive isn’t able to isolate, then the other family members should test 5 to 7 days after the positive member exits quarantine. This is typically 10 days after they test positive. Either way, if a household family member becomes symptomatic, they should take the test immediately.
5. What should you do if you plan on meeting high-risk individuals like grandparents or those with previous illnesses?
Ans: Family is definitely important, and it’s essential to spend time with them. Before visiting them, ensure you’re double vaccinated, get the booster shot if necessary, mask up, improve ventilation in areas where you gather, try to maintain as much distance as possible, and sanitize often. If possible, test yourself before the meeting or gathering.
6. What should you have on hand in case you or someone in your house gets COVID?
Ans: There are a few simple steps you must follow to help you prepare for the possibility of developing COVID-19 symptoms or to help you recover if you’ve been tested positive and feel mild to moderate symptoms.
- Stock up on healthy and nutritious food
- Have enough household and cleaning supplies like toiletries, tissue paper, towels, dish soap, toothbrushes, sanitizers, antiseptics, and other frequently used items
- Ensure those on medications have a consistent supply
- Have thermometers handy to check for temperature
- Keep surfaces clean, especially those the sick person comes in contact with.
- Wear masks and maintain distance from positive individuals
7. When should you get an RT PCR done?
Ans: Truth be told, there’s no best time for a COVID-19 test. Based on several factors, including the progression of symptoms, you must take a call.
Typically, the incubation period for the virus is 5 to 14 days. If you’re exposed to the virus and catch it, you’ll likely develop symptoms within a week. In all, the best time to test is 4 to 5 days after exposure.
There are many asymptomatic cases too, those who have the virus but show no symptoms. In such cases, you must take the test at the end of the first week and until then, you should follow proper quarantine and safety measures.
8. Which test to take, and when?
Ans: The RT-PCR test is your best bet if:
- You’re showing COVID-19 symptoms
- Have been exposed to someone with COVID-19
- Take the rapid antigen test, which shows a positive result
- When you want to complete your quarantine or isolation
- When you want to travel or other legal matters
It’s the test of choice for most situations, as it’s more accurate.
The rapid antigen test is best taken when:
- You want quick results
- Want to take the test yourself, at home
- Show symptoms of COVID-19, but cannot arrange for an RT-PCR test
- Want to visit a sensitive site (old age home)
- You plan on visiting high-risk individuals like grandparents
- Going to an event with large crowds
While the rapid test is not 100% accurate, it will definitely give you a clearer picture.
9. What do I do if I have symptoms but RT PCR is negative?
Ans: If you get a negative RT-PCR test, it means the virus wasn’t found in your body. This doesn’t mean you’ve never had the virus. You may have had the virus, but the sample may not have the virus present or the virus was out of your system by the time you took the test.
What you do next entirely depends on whether you took the test because you were in close contact with someone who tested positive or you were showing symptoms.
If you did not have symptoms and took the test because you came in contact with someone, then you can stop staying home or isolating. But it’s best to stay home for a few more days to prevent any further spreading. Don’t forget to check your oxygen levels.
If you did show symptoms, you must isolate at home for 48 hours, until you show no symptoms. This is advisable even if you’ve got both vaccines and the booster shot. When you show no symptoms for 48 hours, you can return to normal activities. If your symptoms get worse, you should consult with a medical advisor like on the Loop Health app, and find out your next steps.
10. If you’re vaccinated and don’t have symptoms, but think you were exposed to COVID-19, should you get tested?
Ans: For safety sake, it’s best you take the test. Omicron is highly transmissible and even spreads to fully vaccinated individuals. It’s advised to take a test if you were in close contact with an infected individual in a high-risk situation (indoor with no ventilation, no masks, etc.). Before the test results, you must also wear a mask at home, distance yourself from others, quarantine, and watch for symptoms. If you do test positive, then you must isolate.
If you were in a lower risk situation (outdoors, with masks and maintaining social distance, etc.) the chance of infection is lower. Here, you can keep your distance from others, monitor for symptoms, and test if you develop any.
11. How many days should a person who tests positive be in isolation?
Ans: While your medical advisor can give you the best guidance, here’s something that will throw some light on isolation periods.
- Symptomatic adults and children can discontinue isolation 10 days after the onset of symptoms and until other symptoms are not present for more than 24 hours.
- For someone who’s severely ill or (requires ventilation support, intensive care, or hospitalization) it’s best to stay in isolation for up to 20 days after the onset of symptoms or until 48 to 72 hours until other symptoms are not present.
- For those who are infected but asymptomatic, you can discontinue precautions and isolation 10 days after the first positive test.
- If your family members test positive, you must isolate them first. For the others, a period of 5 days post the last contact with the infected person is recommended.
12. What is the difference between isolation and quarantine?
Ans: In essence, both isolation and quarantine are methods of separating a person with illness from others to prevent the spread of the virus.
Isolation is for people who are already sick or tested positive. You isolate to restrict movement so the disease doesn’t spread to healthy people. A person must continue isolation until there’s no fever for a minimum of 24 hours, symptoms improve or it’s been 10 days since the appearance of symptoms.
Quarantine is when you’re not sick, but you’ve been possibly exposed so you keep away from others to prevent the spread of the virus. A person who is quarantined must stay home for 14 days after their last contact to determine if they have been infected and develop symptoms
13. Are masks good enough to prevent the spread of Omicron?
Ans: Masks are one of the best ways to protect yourself from COVID-19 and its variants. Especially with Omicron, since it’s highly transmissible. However, research suggests that cloth masks are rather ineffective. Of course, a cloth mask is better than no mask, but it is not as good as the N95, KN95, or a three-layer surgical mask.
Doubling up a single-layer cloth mask makes sense, but if it’s already a double-layer one, there’s no need. Again, it’s best to purchase the more effective masks to stay safe.
Other than the mask, you must follow usual COVID-19 safety protocols like:
- Get both vaccines
- Maintain social distance
- Ventilate when you’re indoors
- Sanitize of wash hands regularly
Stay Strong, Keep Your Head Up
With the rate the infection is spreading, it’s a must to follow COVID-19 protocols to ensure the utmost safety for yourself and those around you.
Hang in there, things will get better and soon, things will return to normalcy.
Sometimes, when you feel anxious, stressed, or drained out, it’s always good to talk to someone. You can log in to the Loop Health app and chat with a dedicated medical answer anytime, anywhere. They’ll give you guidance, support and help you get through this whirlwind, peacefully.
In the event you or someone close to you falls sick, you can always book a virtual consult with a specialized doctor and forge a clear path forward.
Download the Loop Health app now!