Covid patients most infectious first 5 days after onset of symptoms.
ACCORDING to one of the most comprehensive Covid studies of its kind to date, people infected with coronavirus have the highest levels of virus in the first five days.
The findings “reinforce the need to identify and isolate cases early”, claim researchers involved in the study led by the University of St Andrews.
The research examined the three key factors in controlling the spread of the killer bug: viral load (how the amount of the virus in the body changes through infection); viral RNA shedding (the length of time someone sheds viral genetic material); and isolation of the live virus (an indicator of infectiousness).
Lead author, Dr Muge Cevik of the School of Medicine at the University of St Andrews, said: “This is the first systematic review and meta-analysis that has comprehensively examined and compared viral load and shedding for these three human coronaviruses.
“It provides a clear explanation for why SARS-CoV-2 spreads more efficiently than SARS-CoV-1 and MERS-CoV and is so much more difficult to contain. People are most likely to pass on coronavirus within the first five days of having symptoms.
“Our findings are in line with contact tracing studies which suggest the majority of viral transmission events occur very early, and especially within the first five days after symptom onset, indicating the importance of self-isolation immediately after symptoms start.”
Dr Cevik also warned that it was vital to raise public awareness about the range of symptoms linked with the disease, including mild symptoms that may occur earlier on in the course of the infection than those that are more prominent like cough or fever, to enable immediate self-isolation.
The research team included 98 studies and trials and found the average length of time of viral RNA shedding from the body was 17 days, although the longest time for a patient to shed the virus was 60 days.
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