Despite medical advancements to protect us from COVID-19 such as newly developed vaccines and booster shots, people around the world are still testing positive for COVID-19. Why is this? For one thing, no vaccine is going to be 100% effective. Secondly, new variants of COVID continue to create spikes of new COVID cases, as certain variants and mutations of variants are more resistant to vaccines, or more contagious.
This means that despite how far we’ve come in getting ahead of this pandemic, it’s still possible to test positive for COVID-19. How you respond to a positive COVID test makes all the difference not only in your safety, but the safety of others.
Everyone needs to take a positive COVID test seriously in order to avoid spreading the virus.
Even with COVID vaccines and booster shots to protect you, there’s no guarantee you’re ever completely safe from contracting COVID-19. Being vaccinated can reduce your chances of infection, but it’s still possible for vaccinated individuals to get infected with COVID and test positive for it.
Both PCR and antigen tests can be used to determine whether you have a positive COVID status, such as the at-home rapid antigen test from Project Screen.
While an antigen test can be easy to perform and have fast results, it can also have a higher risk of false negatives. Taking a secondary test such as PCR test may be necessary if you want to be absolutely certain of your COVID status.
If you do test positive for COVID, your primary focus should be on protecting yourself, and taking precautions as to not to spread the virus. This may involve isolating, canceling trips or social events, and notifying your friends and family.
You don’t have to be experiencing any symptoms of COVID-19 to be contagious. When someone with this virus speaks or breathes, they release small particles of moisture which contain the virus. These particles can infect other people when breathed in, and they can also transfer the virus when they land on surfaces if people touch their nose, mouth or eyes after they touch the contaminated surfaces.
The government’s guidelines and rules implemented around COVID-19 are frequently changing. At the time of writing, in the UK for instance, it’s no longer required by law to self-isolate, even if you test positive for COVID-19. However, self-isolating is still the safest thing to do if you test positive for COVID, regardless of the law.
Elsewhere in the world, such as in the US, you are still required to isolate for 5 days if you are asymptomatic or symptoms are resolving (without fever for 24 hours) and follow that with 5 days of wearing a mask when around others. In Hong Kong, infected individuals with no or mild symptoms will need to isolate for 14 days if they have not received at least 2 vaccine doses. For those who have received 2 vaccine doses, isolation can be shortened to 7 days if 2 rapid antigen tests (RAT) performed on day 6 and day 7 are negative.
To reiterate, even if you are not required by law to isolate, staying away from other people is the most effective way to avoid spreading the virus. It’s possible to infect someone you don’t have close contact with, especially if you visit a number of crowded, enclosed, or poorly ventilated spaces.
A person with COVID-19 can be contagious up to 48 hours before they start to experience any symptoms. Harvard Health notes that people without symptoms are more likely to spread the illness, because they may not be aware of their infection.
Isolation doesn’t mean just staying inside your house. It also means keeping your distance from other uninfected people who share your home.
Ideally, it’s best to eat and sleep in your own space, away from others, and be especially cautious about interactions with those at higher risk of infection, such as:
· The elderly or those who are pregnant
· Unvaccinated people
· Immunocompromised individuals (people with a weakened immune system)
· People who have chronic illnesses
To ensure you can isolate effectively, speak to your employer about your options for staying away from work, at least until your country’s mandatory isolation period has passed, especially if you are asymptomatic. At the same time, look into having essentials delivered through contactless delivery, and cancel all routine medical, dental, and social appointments.
You’ll find that many apps and websites allow you to order groceries online, for example, without leaving the house.
Those who tested positive for COVID-19 may still be contagious 10 days after symptoms start. According to the CDC, you can take an LFD test five days after your symptoms started (or when you took your positive test) followed by another test with at least 24 hours and no more than 48 hours between tests. Note that the recommendations regarding the timing of tests would vary by the country.
If both of these tests are negative and you have no symptoms, you may be able to return to your normal routine. If your LFD test result is positive, you can continue to take the test until you receive 2 consecutive negative results.
The CDC does recommend that when you return to your normal routine, you wear a well-fitting mask for at least 5 days. You should also consider taking additional steps to reduce your risk to other people for the next five days when you return to your routine, for instance:
· Social distancing (aim for 6 feet of distance between yourself and others)
· Cover your nose and mouth with tissues when you sneeze or cough, and get rid of these tissues immediately after use, then wash your hands.
· Wash your hands properly and frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds before you eat or handle food or interact with other people.
· Regularly sanitized touched surfaces such as remote controls, door handles, and shared areas, bathrooms and kitchens.
· Avoid interacting with at-risk people who have issues with their immune system or may suffer more than others from a COVID infection.
Remember, not having any symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you’re in the safe zone. A study published in the JAMA Network Open magazine found almost one out of every four infections may be transmitted by people who are asymptomatic. The proportion of asymptomatic infections appears to be higher still with the Omicron variant.
Depending on your lifestyle and career, you may need to follow more specific instructions after testing positive. For instance, health care professionals should follow the CDC’s isolation guidelines for health specialists.
There are certain people you’ll have to notify when you test positive for COVID-19. The highly infectious nature of COVID-19 means it’s important to share the discovery of your positive status with the people you’ve recently been in close contact with. You’ll need to contact everyone who you came into close contact with. Remember, you are contagious up to two days prior to the onset of symptoms or testing positive.
The people you contact to let them know about your positive COVID status will not necessarily need to self-isolate. In the US, individuals with a booster vaccination shouldn’t have to be isolated if they are experiencing no symptoms, but they will need to wear a mask for at least 10 days after exposure and practice extra safety precautions such as social distancing whenever possible.
You may also want to contact your doctor if you’re positive for COVID. If you have had your vaccinations and booster shots, you may only experience mild symptoms, such as a dry cough, headache, or fever.
However, making your doctor aware of your condition will ensure they’re prepared to help you take the right steps with your treatment. Your doctor can tell you how to report your positive results to the correct health department to assist health officials in tracking the spread of the virus.
Your family doctor may advise you to monitor your symptoms, to ensure the condition isn’t becoming dangerous. Seek immediate emergency medical care if you experience:
· Persistent chest pain
· Inability to stay awake
· Difficulty breathing
· Blue tinge to the face and lips
· Confusion or altered mental state
Having COVID-19 once does not prevent you from getting the virus again. The immune system may now be better prepared to fight against COVID-19, but you will still be at risk, particularly as new variants of COVID come about. Omicron, for example, is a COVID variant with more than 50 mutations. Do not assume you are no longer at risk because you have already tested positive for COVID once. If you are already vaccinated and haven’t received a booster yet, you can make a plan to get a booster shot, and boost your protection levels after you have recovered from COVID-19.
You can also take this opportunity to order an antibody test and learn more about your immunity towards COVID-19.
Most importantly, it’s up to you to make sure you’re not contributing to the spread of coronavirus.
Testing your COVID status regularly is a responsible thing to do, to ensure you’re not contributing to the spread of the virus. Explore the variety of reliable COVID-19 testing solutions from Project Screen, and get the Flowflex COVID-19 Rapid Antigen Test to use at your convenience to regularly test your COVID status.