How Long Is Coronavirus Contagious?

Coronavirus is a type of virus that can cause respiratory diseases in humans and animals. In 2019, a new coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2 emerged in Wuhan, China, and spread rapidly around the world. An infection with the new coronavirus causes a respiratory disease called COVID-19. As with most viruses, the incubation period for SARS-CoV-2 can vary from person to person. Read to know how long symptoms can develop and what to do if you think you have COVID-19.

How Long Is Coronavirus Contagious?
How Long Is Coronavirus Contagious?


What you should know about the incubation period

An incubation period is a time between when you contract the virus and the onset of symptoms. Currently, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the incubation period for the new coronavirus is between 2 and 14 days after exposure. According to a recent report, more than 97% of people who get SARS-CoV-2 show symptoms within 11.5 days after being exposed. The average incubation period appears to be approximately 5 days. However, this calculation may change as we learn more about the virus. For many people, COVID-19 symptoms begin as moderate symptoms and gradually worsen within a few days.

How is the virus transmitted?

SARS-CoV-2 is spread mainly from person to person through close contact or by droplets that spread when a person with the virus sneezes or coughs. The new coronavirus is highly contagious, which means it spreads easily from person to person. According to the CDC, people who have the virus are most contagious when they show the symptoms of COVID-19. Although much less common, there is a chance that someone who is infected with the coronavirus may transmit the virus even if they do not show symptoms. It is also possible that the virus can be spread by touching surfaces contaminated with the virus and then touching your mouth or nose. However, this is not the main way the new coronavirus is spread.

How to protect yourself

The best way to prevent you from getting the new coronavirus is to wash your hands often.¬†Use soap and water, and wash for at least 20 seconds.¬†If you don’t have soap and water, you can also use hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol.¬†Other forms of protection include:

  • Stay 6 feet away from at least anyone who appears to be sick and avoid large groups of people.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Do not share personal items with others.¬†This includes things like glasses, utensils, toothbrushes, and lip balm.
  • Clean the most contact surfaces like knobs, keyboards, and handrails in your house with household cleaners or a dilute chlorine solution.
  • Wash your hands or use a hand sanitizer after touching surfaces like an elevator or ATM buttons, gasoline pump handles, and grocery carts.
  • Stay home and call your doctor if you start to have respiratory problems and think your symptoms are consistent with those of COVID-19.

What are the typical symptoms?

COVID-19 symptoms are usually moderate and develop slowly. The main symptoms are:
  • fever
  • difficulty breathing
  • cough
  • fatigue

Other less common symptoms may include:

  • pain
  • nasal congestion
  • sore throat
  • runny nose

COVID-19 has more respiratory symptoms than a cold, which usually causes a runny nose, congestion, and sneezing. Also, fever is not so common when we have a cold. The flu has symptoms similar to those of COVID-19. However, COVID-19 is more likely to cause difficulty breathing and other respiratory symptoms. Older adults and people with compromised immune systems have a higher risk of developing more severe symptoms. However, some people can become seriously ill after contracting COVID-19. Other adults and people with compromised immune systems are at higher risk of developing more severe symptoms.

What should you do if you think you have symptoms of COVID-19?

If you think you have the symptoms of COVID-19, stay home and call your doctor. Inform your doctor:
  • what kind of symptoms do you have
  • how severe are your symptoms
  • if you have traveled abroad or had contact with someone who has traveled abroad
  • if you’ve been in large groups of people

You may need to be evaluated if:

  • your symptoms are severe
  • you are older
  • you have underlying medical conditions
  • you have been exposed to someone with COVID-19

Your doctor will determine if you need to have a test and what type of treatment is best. If your symptoms are moderate and you have no underlying medical conditions, your doctor may direct you to stay home, rest, hydrate, and avoid contact with other people. If your symptoms worsen after a few days of rest, it is important to receive immediate medical attention.

What are the other types of coronaviruses?

Coronavirus is a certain type of virus that causes respiratory diseases in animals and humans.¬†They are called “coronaviruses” because of the proteins on the outside of the virus that look like crowns.¬†SARS-CoV-2 is the newest type of coronavirus that has been discovered.¬†The source of this virus is suspected to be animals sold on an open market in China.¬†It is unclear what kind of animal was the source of the virus.¬†Coronaviruses can cause respiratory illnesses that range from mild colds to pneumonia.¬†In fact, most people get some kind of coronavirus infection at some point in their lives.¬†Other types of coronaviruses include:
  • SARS-CoV, which causes severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS). The SARS incubation period is usually 2 to 7 days but can be up to 10 days in some people.
  • MERS-CoV, which causes Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS).¬†The incubation period for MERS-CoV is between 2 and 14 days, with an average of 5 to 6 days.


In conclusion

Most people who develop COVID-19 begin to notice symptoms 3-14 days after being exposed to the new coronavirus known as SARS-CoV-2. On average, it takes about 5 days to develop symptoms, but this may change as we learn more about the virus. If you have symptoms of COVID-19, call your doctor for advice. Until you know what type of illness you have, stay home, and avoid contact with other people.