How long after getting Covid-19 is safe?

I just recovered from Covid-19, tested negative, no symptoms. Can I safely return to work and life? (Lien, Hanoi)

Over a week ago, I had my first symptom onset, a positive rapid test. After 4 days, I almost had no symptoms, only sometimes I still had a cough. On the 5th day since I got sick, I tested negative, finished the isolation, returned to work as usual. So is it safe, doctor?


In fact, there are a lot of Covid-19 patients after only 4-5 days, even 2-3 days, their symptoms are gone, the test is negative, thinking that they have recovered from the disease, they can come back with peace of mind. living and working. However, this is the wrong view.

For Covid-19 patients, after 10 days from the onset of the first symptoms, you can be considered safe. The first reason, a negative rapid test does not mean that you are free of the virus. If the test sensitivity is not high or the sampling is not done according to the procedure and technique (maybe the sample is not in the right position), the test will not be able to display accurate results. Second, even if the test is sensitive, you have taken the sample correctly and the result is negative, the virus is gone does not mean that the disease will not get worse.

A severe Covid-19 patient has to go through 3 phases of the disease, including acute infection, pulmonary phase and immune phase. The acute phase of infection is calculated during the first 0-5 days from symptom onset. At this stage, the virus begins to attack the body and gradually multiply strongly, can appear in most test fluids, so the percentage of positive detection is very high.

In the next 5 days (pulmonary phase, 5-10 days from symptom onset), viral load drops significantly, test results may be negative. However, this is the stage when the virus can attack the lungs. The remaining stage (immune phase) involves patients with ARDS pneumonia, shock… treated in emergency resuscitation units.

Thus, after 10 days, if the patient has no abnormal symptoms, the SpO2 is stable, that is, the virus does not attack the lungs.

The group that needs to be paid the most attention is those at high risk of severe disease such as the elderly, people with underlying medical conditions, and those who have not been vaccinated. This group should monitor their health, especially the SpO2 index, until 10 days are completed. Young people who have had enough doses of the Covid-19 vaccine are less at risk, but should still monitor their health.

Some people worry because after 10 days of symptom onset still have a positive result. In fact, negative or positive is not a problem if you have passed enough of the aforementioned time. Firstly, regarding the risk of exacerbation, the test result is still positive, but after 10 days, there is no longer a risk of severe progression. Second, about the possibility of transmission, it is also proven that after 10 days from the time of first symptom appearance, the risk of transmission is very low, almost non-existent. Thus, you do not need to worry if you encounter the above situation.

Besides, the bold or faint line test is only meaningful to determine the virus concentration, your ability to spread is high or low, not related to the possibility of seriousness.

Doctor Pham Van Phuc
Deputy Head of Intensive Care Department, Central Hospital for Tropical Diseases


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