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How long is the incubation period for COVID19?

Firstly, we should ask ourselves – What is an incubation period?

The incubation period is the time period between a person being exposed to a virus and showing first symptoms. The length of this varies from illness to illness and even person to person.

During the incubation period, the virus may remain ‘inactive’ in the carrier’s body. This means that it might not be detected by a test. However, it is possible for the infected person to infect others during the incubation period, even if they’re not showing symptoms themselves.

 

How long is the incubation period for COVID19?

The period will vary person to person, but the widespread scientific understanding now says that the average incubation period for COVID19 is 5-6 days. However, it is possible that the period can be as long as 14 days.

 

The long length of the incubation period for COVID19 is a major contributor to the spread of the virus. It means that there is is a period in which every infected person is contagious (can infect others) but might know that they are infected themselves.

The COVID19 testing programme which we have seen rolled out in the second half of 2020 and into 2021 has been a big help is addressing this problem. It has meant that asymptomatic people (people with no symptoms) can go and undertake regular COVID19 tests. These tests have managed to identify many people who are carrying the virus, likely in the incubation period, and didn’t know. They are then instructed to self-isolate immediately which hugely removes the risk of them spreading it in the community.

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