Many of the Covid-19 restrictions that have been in place in recent months have been lifted, following the rising number of Omicron cases we had. Part of the reason for this is the new information that though Omicron is highly contagious and spreads quickly, it is not nearly as severe as other variants of Covid-19.
One thing that has been of concern to us all since the beginning of the pandemic, is how quickly the virus can develop after exposure. With the Omicron variant in mind specifically, in the following post, we are going to answer the question posed in the title and look at the time it takes for symptoms to show.
When Do the Initial Symptoms of Covid Usually Start Developing?
According to the official findings of the WHO, From initial exposure to the first signs of symptoms developing from Covid-19, it is between 5 and 6 days on average, but that incubation period can extend from one day all the way through to 14 days.
It’s because of this long incubation period that people have always been advised to self-isolate, for at least 14 days, if they have been exposed and have symptoms, to lower and in most cases completely stop the chance of the virus spreading.
Some of the earliest symptoms that develop are headaches, fatigue, smell or taste loss, continuous cough and high temperature.
The WHO’s directions are backed by a study conducted at the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic in Wuhan, China. As published in the May 2022 edition of Annals of Internal Medicine, the study found that in 181 cases, the average incubation period for the virus was 5.1 days.
Does the Incubation Period Vary Among the Variants?
As we know, since the spread of Covid-19 became a serious health crisis two years ago, there have been several variants of the virus. Although the same virus, these variants have differences in the degree to which they affect people and how long their symptoms take to develop.
US Harvard Medical School published an article that provides what is thought to be a more accurate understanding of the incubation periods according to the variant.
It noted that the incubation period was considered 2 to 14 days. However, it went on to say that with early variants, symptoms often manifested within the first five days after exposure and with the Delta variant, after four days.
According to the article, with the Omicron variant, the incubation period is often much shorter still at about 3 days. This was in line with data found by the CDC.
Do All Covid-19 Symptoms Develop at the Same Time?
Another interesting aspect of this subject is the fact that not all of the symptoms commonly associated and attributed to Covid-19 manifest themselves at the same time. With many not even being clear and present within the earlier days of the incubation period.
It is believed that after 9 days is when many of the more serious respiratory symptoms often start to develop. In January of 2022, some 1.3 million here in the UK had been diagnosed with Long Covid and were experiencing the symptoms connected such as shortness of breath, dizziness, joint or chest pain and fatigue, over four months after they were infected.
How Long Are People With Covid-19 Infectious?
Again, there is no exact time period that is true of all cases of Covid-19. At best, researchers have estimated that people who have been infected with Covid-19 could spread the virus within the two to three days before any symptoms actually start to appear and that they are actually most contagious surprisingly one to two days before they actually start to feel the effects of Covid-19.
This is why rigorous and regular testing for the coronavirus has been encouraged in the fight to stop it from spreading so easily.
Further to those details, there are many studies that show the most infectious period of the virus can last as long as 10 days.
Therefore, it’s important to remain vigilant, and test regularly and if you test positive, stay away from others as long as you can.