If I tested positive for the coronavirus, when can I see others again?

Canadians are urged to stay home and get tested if they experience symptoms of the novel coronavirus, just as they are required to self-isolate for 14 days after travel in order to curb its spread.

In New Brunswick, new cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, are linked to a health-care worker who recently travelled back to the province from Quebec and failed to self-isolate upon their return — a rule in the province for months.

“By pushing against restrictions, you are endangering not just yourself, but your family, friends and fellow New Brunswickers,” Premier Blaine Higgs said in a press conference on Wednesday.

READ MORE: Should you be tested for coronavirus if you don’t have symptoms?

As of May 28, there are 87,902 total cases of COVID-19 in Canada and 1,559,280 individuals tested for the virus. Health experts say anyone who has symptoms of COVID-19 or tests positive should self-isolate for at least 14 days as soon as their symptoms start.

But after you test positive for the coronavirus (or suspect you had it) and self-isolate, how soon after can you see others again and resume “normal” activities without posing a risk to others?

When can you see others?

“The risk of infectivity declines and is likely negligible after 14 days,” Dr. Nick Daneman, a scientist at Toronto’s Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, said in an email to Global News.

Health Canada says while most people experience symptoms five to six days after infection, the incubation period can be up to 14 days.

The reason why self-isolation after travel or a positive test is so important is that people may only experience mild symptoms — especially at the early stage of the disease. Others are asymptomatic.

People with no or mild symptoms can still transmit the virus.

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For those who don’t have symptoms but have tested positive for the virus, it’s important to start counting your isolation period from the date of your first positive test, said Dr. Brett Belchetz, a Toronto-based emergency room physician and the CEO of telehealth company Maple.

Fourteen days after you test positive or begin your self-isolation period, you can “stop isolating if you no longer have a fever and your symptoms have improved,” Toronto Public Health says.

But, the health agency warns, you should continue with COVID-19 prevention measures, like physical distancing and handwashing.

If you are still unwell after those two weeks, you should contact Telehealth or your health-care provider, it adds. Health Canada says two “consecutive negative laboratory test results, at least 24 hours apart,” can be used to determine the end of your infectious period.

Symptoms can remain

Even if you’re less likely to be infectious after 14 days, a person with COVID-19 can still experience symptoms, Belchetz said.

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“Research is still evolving in this space, but we’re seeing many patients who have continued to feel symptomatic while repeatedly testing negative for ongoing infection,” Belchetz said.

Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease specialist at Toronto General Hospital, previously told Global News that “not everyone is going to recover right away” and you can still have persistent symptoms once you are no longer infectious.

“It’s not a clean-cut picture,” he said.

It’s important that all people — those who have had COVID-19 or otherwise — practise prevention measures like physical distancing, handwashing and staying home if sick.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.


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