Covid-19 Can Leave You Infectious After Five or Even 10 Days

CDC recommends at least five days of isolation, but some people are testing positive well past that

If you’ve had Covid before, why can you get it again? WSJ’s Daniela Hernandez explains what the possibility of reinfections means for the future of public-health policy and the Covid-19 pandemic. Illustration: David Fang

Seeing that bright red line appear on an at-home Covid-19 test can feel inevitable during a surge like the one under way now. What can be surprising is how many days later that line keeps popping up.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends five days from first symptoms or diagnosis as a minimum isolation period before infected people can return to public activities while maintaining certain precautions. Yet some people continue to test positive for the Covid-19 virus on rapid tests beyond those five days. Some even test positive after 10 days and after symptoms have resolved.

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