JOURNAL ARTICLE

Duration of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) Infectivity: When Is It Safe to Discontinue Isolation?

Chanu Rhee, Sanjat Kanjilal, Meghan Baker, Michael Klompas
Clinical Infectious Diseases 2020 August 25
33029620
Defining the duration of infectivity of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has major implications for public health and infection control practice in healthcare facilities. Early in the pandemic, most hospitals required 2 negative RT-PCR tests before discontinuing isolation in patients with Covid-19. Many patients, however, have persistently positive RT-PCR tests for weeks to months following clinical recovery, and multiple studies now indicate that these generally do not reflect replication-competent virus. SARS-CoV-2 appears to be most contagious around the time of symptom onset, and infectivity rapidly decreases thereafter to near-zero after about 10 days in mild-moderately ill patients and 15 days in severely-critically ill and immunocompromised patients. The longest interval associated with replication-competent virus thus far is 20 days from symptom onset. This review summarizes evidence-to-date on the duration of infectivity of SARS-CoV-2, and how this has informed evolving public health recommendations on when it is safe to discontinue isolation precautions.

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