Incubation

Let’s go through a couple of more terms. When a person gets infected, there’s a time lapse before they start showing symptoms. This time is called incubation period (that’s when people are asymptomatic). Average incubation time for Novel Coronavirus is 5.5 days, with normal distribution 2-14 days and outliers of 0-27[1]days. This means that while majority of people will develop symptoms within 2 to 14 days, a very small percentage can develop symptoms either immediately or after up to 27 days.

Once a person becomes infected, it doesn’t automatically mean they are contagious. They may start infecting others after they develop symptoms or (as the case with coronavirus) before that. Time between the infection and ability to transmit the virus is called latent period. The latent period for Novel Coronavirus is not identified, but it is safe to assume that a person who got infected can gain ability to transmit to others within a relatively short time.

Once a person gains ability to transmit the virus (which could happen before symptoms develop) the person is in infectious period. Infectious period could last until a person recovers or sometimes longer. This happens because symptoms are caused by a disease, which is a response to an infection. All of these are different terms. The disease might be healed, but virus could still persist in the body in small amounts for some time after before it’s fully cleared. 

Some studies say that a person can still be infectious for up to 2 weeks after the recovery. This is one more important thing to note – recovered and discharged people should avoid contact with healthy (not previously infected), unless they test negative for the virus presence. 


[1] https://www.reuters.com/article/us-china-health-incubation/coronavirus-incubation-could-be-as-long-as-27-days-chinese-provincial-government-says-idUSKCN20G06W

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