COVID: Here’s what you should do if you’ve been exposed to the virus

This is what you need to do if you've come into contact with a person who tested positive for COVID.

By now, you probably already know a handful of people who have tested positive for COVID-19. Given the rate at which the Omicron variant is spreading, you are also more likely to come into contact with someone who has been infected. This is why it’s important, now more than ever, to know what health authorities are advising to those who are exposed to the virus.

If you’re unvaccinated

For those of you who have chosen to not get any of the three doses that are now being recommended to adults, exposure to COVID should not be taken lightly. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) advises that you self-isolate immediately for at least five days in the following scenarios:

  • You have come into contact with someone who is positive.
  • You live with someone who is presenting symptoms or has tested positive.

You are also recommended to get a COVID test five days after exposure, even if you have not developed any side effects yourself. As a precautionary measure, the health authority also suggests that you wear a ‘well-fitted mask’ when you’re around other people for at least 10 days. They said:

You should wear a well-fitting mask around others for 10 days from the date of your last close contact with someone with COVID-19 (the date of last close contact is considered day 0). Get tested at least 5 days after you last had close contact with someone with COVID-19.

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Self-isolation Annie Spratt/UNSPLASH

In the case that you do test positive or are showing symptoms, you should follow your government-recommended advice on self-isolation.

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If you’re vaccinated

People who are up-to-date with their vaccinations, including the booster jab, are not required to self-isolate when exposed to the coronavirus. However, the NHS recommends that they get tested every day for seven days if you do come into contact with a COVID-positive person. They stated on their website:

You're strongly advised to do daily rapid lateral flow tests (1 a day for 7 days), if you’re fully vaccinated, to protect yourself and others from COVID-19.

Children below the age of 18, who are not vaccinated, are also not required to self-isolate in the UK.

COVID: Can you catch the virus when you're outside? COVID: Can you catch the virus when you're outside?