New evidence suggests people who test positive for the coronavirus can stay infectious for longer than previously thought, Los Angeles County’s public health director Dr. Barbara Ferrer said Friday.
This will mean that those who test positive will need to self-isolate for longer, even those who have no symptoms.
“A person may be able to infect other people for a longer period of time than was initially thought when we had the guidance that people needed to self-isolate for 7 days, plus 72 hours after fever and symptoms subsided,” Ferrer said.
Now, L.A. County’s guidance for those infected, or presumed to be infected, is that they should stay home and away from others for at least 10 days after symptoms first appear, and 72 hours after fever and symptoms subside, without the use of fever-reducing medication.
Ferrer said health agencies continue learn more about the virus.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also updated its guidance for isolation earlier this week.
Those who come in contact with someone with COVID-19 still have to quarantine for 14 days from when they last had contact with that person, and then isolate if symptoms appear.
“And if you think you may be positive, you need to stay away from other people until you get a test result that says something different,” Ferrer said.
Ferrer told county residents with symptoms to call their healthcare provider, and those that don’t have one to call 211 for help from the county.
The CDC has recently expanded its list of COVID-19 symptoms. In addition to fever, cough and shortness of breath, the symptoms of the respiratory illness now also include chills, repeated shaking with chills, muscle pain, headache, sore throat and loss of taste or smell.
Those who have to self-isolate should stay away from all other people and pets, avoid preparing or serving meals for others, or sharing food, cups or utensils with others, according to the health department.
They should also stay in a separate room and try to use a separate bathroom than others at the household.
In L.A. County, all residents can sign up online for free coronavirus testing at one of 35 sites throughout the county. Though testing is now open to people without symptoms, those with symptoms, or are 65 years or older, have underlying health conditions, live in congregate settings or work essential jobs are being prioritized.