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Home » Covid-19 » Omicron Most Infectious Between 3-6 Days, Infectious Up To 9 Days After Symptoms Onset: New Study

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Omicron Most Infectious Between 3-6 Days, Infectious Up To 9 Days After Symptoms Onset: New Study

While there seems to be a discourse around relaxing rules around isolation considering Omicron seems “milder”, a Japanese study has established that a person infected with the Omicron variant of Covid-19 is most infectious between 3-6 days after the onset of symptoms, and that people remain infectious up to 9 days after their symptoms begin.

A Japanese study has established that a person infected with the Omicron variant of Covid-19 is most infectious between 3-6 days after the onset of symptoms.

EVEN though a lot is yet to be known about Omicron, what is certain about the new variant is that its arrival has changed the course of the pandemic. So have symptoms, treatment and isolation periods. 

While it has caused an unprecedented surge in numbers but milder infections, many countries have responded by re-evaluating the required isolation period.

The Union Health Ministry in India also revised its guidelines for home isolation for mild or asymptomatic cases and reduced the isolation from 10 days to seven days from testing positive.

While there seems to be a discourse around relaxing rules around isolation considering Omicron seems “milder”, a Japanese study has established that a person infected with the Omicron variant of Covid-19 is most infectious between 3-6 days after the onset of symptoms, and that people remain infectious up to 9 days after their symptoms begin.

Revaluation Of Isolation Period

US Centers for Disease Control had recommended people end their isolation five days after they have a positive test if they are asymptomatic. They halved the isolation period for asymptomatic infected individuals from 10 days to five. 

The shorter isolation period of five days focused on the time when a person is most infectious, followed by masking for five days, the CDC said.

The cutting of isolation in India and US comes as the CDC officials said the studies suggest that people infected with the Omicron variant are most infectious in the two days before and three days after symptoms develop. It said that more than 100 studies from 17 countries indicate that most transmission happens early in an infection.

But, the latest study by Japan’s National Institute of Infectious Diseases suggests otherwise. 

Also Read: Omicron May Show Milder Symptoms But Long Covid Threat Looms Large, Experts Warn

Omicron Most Infectious Between 3-6 Days

Published on Jan 5 by the Japanese Institute of Infectious Diseases, the new study suggests that the presence of virus in the respiratory samples was the highest between 3-6 days after the diagnosis and the onset of symptoms. 

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The study presented a rather important finding. It suggested people can in some cases remain infectious up to 9 days after their symptoms begin. This just goes to show that the present isolation rules in some countries, including India and US, could possibly be misfit and premature. 

The Japanese study took into consideration 21 people with Covid-19 caused by the omicron variant. 19 out of them were vaccinated, 2 were unvaccinated, 4 people were asymptomatic and 17 experienced mild symptoms. 

After analysing 83 respiratory samples using a technique called real time RT-PCR, from the 21 people who were studied, the measurement of the amount of SARS-CoV2 virus present was highest between 3-6 days after diagnosis and post symptom onset. 

In fact, some patients even had a sizeable level of the genetic material of the virus even 14 days after the diagnosis. 

The researchers also did experiments to culture live viruses from the samples, in lieu of the shortcomings with regards to using an RT-PCR, finding the results to be similar to the real-time PCR studies.

A point to note here is that, the researchers were unable to grow any live virus from any samples, 10 days after the diagnosis. This meant that the participant could no longer infect anyone even if the genetic material of the virus was present in them. 

Isolation Rules For Omicron Globally 

Germany and Portugal are still considering shortening self-isolation periods, while the Czech government has decided to cut isolation restrictions from 14 to five days. Greece is the first country in Europe to announce an all-time low of five days’ quarantine for infected.

The UK had already moved to a seven-day isolation period for infected people just before Christmas.

Previous Variants Vs Omicron In Case Of Infectiousness Peak

While so much is still uncertain about Omicron, one thing that medical experts have gone out to say repeatedly is that people who are exposed to this strain appear to get sick more quickly.

Delta’s incubation period was about four days, and the original variant at the onset of the pandemic in 2019, had an incubation period of about five days, across the general population.

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Several studies of Omicron that have come out in recent weeks suggest it takes Omicron about three days to develop symptoms after exposure. 

WATCH: Omicron Variant: Which Mask Works Best Against The New Variant? | Explained

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