After any exposure to COVID-19, concern about whether or not you will fall ill and develop symptoms is going to be front of mind. Along with this is a desire for COVID-19 testing. Whether you aren’t feeling well or worry you might be asymptomatic, a diagnostic test is the only way to get the answers to your concerns and questions. Unfortunately, you may not be able to just run out and get a test the moment you learn you have been exposed. Here’s what you need to know about timing your COVID-19 test after exposure so you will know confidently you have gotten reliable results.
It can take as much as a week after COVID-19 exposure to test positive. COVID-19 testing tends to be least-accurate in the first three days after exposure.
You might also wonder how long after Covid exposure you still test positive for COVID-19. 30-40% of patients still test positive three weeks after their first positive test. While that doesn’t mean you are necessarily contagious the entire time you test positive, a negative test result may still be required by agencies like your employer to allow you back to work, or an airline to allow you to travel.
The average incubation period for Covid is normally anywhere from two to 14 days. Some patients develop symptoms and recover quickly, while others take a while to show symptoms and may recover just as slowly. In around 1 out of every 100 people, symptoms develop after 14 days. However, the average is that four to five days after exposure, individuals will start to show symptoms.
It’s important to know that the time you start to show symptoms is actually after your most contagious period. Individuals who have COVID-19 can spread it to others two to three days before symptoms start, and are actually most contagious one to two days before they start to feel sick.
It’s most reliable to get tested for COVID-19 five to seven days after your exposure. According to MIT, some tests have a false negative rate of 5% or less on the fifth day post-exposure. The same research found that PCR tests are also more accurate after a few days of symptoms. On the day an individual begins showing symptoms, the false negative rate can still be as high as 38%, but after three days of symptoms it falls to 20%.
While false negatives can be common, it’s important to remember that the likelihood of a false positive is much lower. If you receive a positive COVID-19 test result it’s important to treat it as accurate and take steps to quarantine and inform your close contacts.
Once you finally go and get a COVID-19 test, you want to choose a reliable lab that will provide your results as soon as possible. At BioCollections, our customer-oriented approach to COVID-19 testing means it’s our mission to get your results back to you as soon as possible without compromising on the quality of our science. Our average turnaround time for a PCR test is currently less than 12 hours.
If you need a COVID-19 test in Nevada, Florida, California, Puerto Rico, or abroad, we are a trusted partner that is here to serve you. We have performed over 280,000 COVID-19 tests and we aren’t stopping until the service is no longer needed. In fact, we’ve taken steps to include a flu test with our COVID-19 test as well, to help every patient understand the potential source of their illness with just one test. Explore the locations of our different branches to see if you need to make an appointment or if you can just come right in.