An infection with novel coronavirus causes a highly contagious disease called COVID-19 which first affected the Wuhan city in China at the end of the year 2019. This is a new virus so its incubation period is roughly estimated based on this new coronavirus infected patient’s case history. However, as per the trusted sources, it takes up to 2 to 14 days in the onset of its symptoms from the date a person contracts this virus.
Just like many other viruses the incubation period of new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2 may vary from person to person depending upon different factors that are specific to any individual. In this article, we are going to share about the most appropriate incubation period of this pandemic of the current time, its symptoms and other vital information that will help you in increasing yours and your dear one’s safety against the fight of this outbreak by which most of the countries worldwide are affected from.
What is the incubation period?
The incubation period is a time frame between the exposure of any virus or bacteria and the date when the symptoms of this virus or bacteria contraction start coming on surface. The incubation period of any virus infection varies from person to person. So in case of the new coronavirus infection as well the incubation period of every other infected person will differ from one another.
How long does it take for symptoms of the coronavirus disease to appear on the surface?
The new coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2 has caused highly infectious diseases known as COVID-19 which has emerged as a pandemic affecting most of the countries globally. This recently discovered coronavirus was unknown before the outbreak that began in Wuhan, China in 2019.
As per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the incubation period of COVID-19 disease lies between 2 to 14 days. That means after your exposure to novel coronavirus you can start developing its symptoms somewhere between 2 to 14 days from the date of your exposure.
According to a recent study report in more than 97% cases of this new coronavirus, infected patients start showing the symptoms of this infectious disease within 11.5 days from the date of exposure. The average incubation period of the new coronavirus is around 5 days. However, this estimation may change in the future based on the latest case study report as the healthcare personnel learns more and more about this virus.
The finding of one study that was conducted on 181 new coronavirus positive cases suggests that 97.5% of these patients who were symptomatic start showing symptoms within 11.5 days. Though on an average it takes 5.1 days for its symptoms to come on the surface but it can take up to 14 days in certain cases of this infection.
About 80% of cases of this virus disease people recover on their own without any necessity of medical intervention or treatment. Approx. 1 out of every 5 COVID-19 disease affected patients develops serious symptoms of this disease including difficulty in breathing or breathing shortness.
Other than this old age people or those having an underlying medical condition such as diabetes, high blood pressure, cancer, lungs, and heart disease contains a high risk of developing serious illness if contract this new coronavirus infection.
However, anyone can contract this new coronavirus infection and turn seriously ill. In case of serious symptoms such as high fever, dry cough associated with difficulty in breathing, chest pain or pressure, difficulty in movement or loss of speech should seek immediate medical help without delay irrespective of the age at the time of coronavirus contraction.
It will be better if you prefer to call your health care provider or health facility first before physically visiting the clinic. In this way, the healthcare personnel can guide you on what you need to do before you start getting medical services and which particular clinic will be suitable for you to visit based on your current symptoms and health status.
Symptoms of COVID-19 Disease
The most commonly developed symptoms of COVID-19 disease include fever, dry cough, body ache, and tiredness. Apart from these common symptoms, other symptoms that are less common but may affect to some patients include headache, aches, pain, sore throat, nasal congestion, conjunctivitis, diarrhea, sore throat, rashes on the skin, discoloration of fingers or toes, and loss of taste or smell.
The above-mentioned symptoms mostly remain mild and develop gradually. However, in certain cases, people develop this infectious disease but their symptoms remain mild throughout this journey and get well on their own without any necessity of medical intervention.
As per the CDC, the symptoms of new coronavirus include-
- Chills or fever
- Breathing shortness
- Muscle aches
- Body aches
- Sore throat
- Nasal congestion or runny nose
In the cases of serious illness, a patient can develop severe symptoms that need immediate medical care including-
- Chronic pain or pressure in the chest
- Difficulty in breathing
- New confusion
- Bluish face or lips
The COVID-19 disease infected patient develops more respiratory symptoms than the patients affected with a common cold which generally causes sneezing, runny nose, congestion, and in a few cases fever.
However, in the cases of flu, people develop symptoms very much similar to COVID-19 disease. But flu patients rarely develop breathing shortness and other respiratory symptoms.
In approx. 80% of cases of COVID-19, people recover on their own without getting any medical treatment. However, some people may get seriously ill that requires immediate medical attention especially people who come in the category of high-risk groups including older adults and people with weak immune systems.
How is the new coronavirus transmitted?
The new coronavirus transmitted through the respiratory droplets of the infected people when they cough, sneezes, or talks. Other than that if you touch any contaminated surface area such as doorknobs, handles, tabletops, countertops, etc and then touch your eyes, nose or mouth without washing your hands with soap and water or without sanitizing it through a sanitizer then also the virus can transmit in your body making you infectious. However, this is not the primary way of transmission of this new coronavirus.
According to CDC the new coronavirus mostly spread through persons to persons when they come in the close and unprotected contact of each other. This is the reason why CDC recommends to people of all ages excluding children under 2 to wear face masks every time they go in public areas.
Face masks work as a protective barrier for you as while in a public place you don’t know who is infected with this disease and who is not as in some cases people develop this infectious disease without any noticeable symptoms or in some cases people remain unaware of the presence of this infection in their body.
Also in places where it is difficult to maintain social distancing of 6 feet from others, there as well, it is a must to wear a face mask in order to prevent the risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2. As per the CDC, a COVID-19 disease infected person gets more contagious when their body starts showing the symptoms of this disease in full-fledged form. So, it is a high time of risk especially for the caregivers at home.
So to prevent the transmission of this virus, family members who are taking care of a sick member of a family should always wear protective gears like masks, hand gloves, must wash hands frequently with soap and water and as much as it is possible to maintain distance from the sick patient until the symptoms disappear fully.
Though it is less common still possibility lies that a new coronavirus infected patient who is not showing any symptoms can transmit this virus to others who come in their close contact especially those who are not wearing a face mask.
How to protect yourself from coronavirus risks?
The best way to prevent your risks of contracting the new coronavirus is by washing your hands too often especially when you return your home from outside. Use soap and water to wash your hands and rub your hands at least for 20 seconds to ensure that all existing germs in your hands are washed off.
However, if soap and water are not available to you then you can even use a sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol in it. Apart from these primary modes of prevention and your protection from the new coronavirus risk, some other effective ways of prevention include-
- Avoid touching highly touch surfaces while out from your home.
- Maintain 6 feet distancing from everyone whether someone is sick or healthy while in a public place. Avoid joining any large gathering of people.
- Avoid touching your face especially when you are out of your home.
- At any cost do not share your personal belongings from others such as toothbrushes, lip balm, utensils, and drinking glasses.
- Wipeout all the high touch surfaces at your home, too often such as switches, keyboards, doorknobs, and stair rails with a household cleaner or a DIY cleaning solution.
- Sanitize your hands immediately after touching ATM buttons, elevator, shopping carts, gas pump handles, etc.
- If your symptoms resemble COVID-19 but mild in nature then isolate yourself at your home in one single room. Avoid your contact with your pets, family members, and others who visit your home unless it is highly essential. This will prevent the spreading risk of this virus to others who come in your close contact.
What should you do if you think that your symptoms resemble COVID-19?
If you find that the symptoms you are developing are resembling with COVID-19 disease then it’s time to isolate yourself at home. Call your doctor and inform him following things which will let them identify your current health status and accordingly they can guide you further-
- What type of symptoms you are developing
- How serious or severe your symptoms are
- Have you had recently traveled in abroad
- Have you recently met with someone who has symptoms of COVID-19 disease
- Does recently you have been around a large group or gathering of people
If any of the below-mentioned conditions match with you then the doctor will ask you for evaluation-
- Your symptoms are severe such as difficulty in breathing and chest pain or pressure.
- You already have certain underlying health conditions.
- You are an older adult (as an aged adult usually have usually immune system)
- You have recently been exposed to someone diagnosed with COVID-19.
It will be decided by your doctor that what type of testing will be best for you for evaluation and based on the test report they will decide the appropriate treatment procedure for you.
Cases where a person has developed mild symptoms, having no underlying health condition the doctor generally advises to stay at home, drink plenty amount of water, rest enough, and avoid contacting other people even with the family members unless it is very necessary.
Don’t use public transport as you have to avoid close contact with other people which is not possible if you travel in public transport. For clinic visits as well, use only your private transportation mode.
However, if your symptoms don’t improve with proper rest, staying hydrated and isolating yourself and over time get worse even after taking rest then it’s time to take immediate medical help without further delay.
Advice for caregivers
Those who are taking care of the new coronavirus infected person they should follow the guidelines recommended by the CDC to ensure the best possible care for the ill patient that helps them in early recovery, which include-
- Remind the sick patient that they have to drink lots of water or any health drink to stay well hydrated.
- Ensure that the patient is taking only prescribed or recommended medications by a healthcare professional.
- In the case of a patient with mild symptoms, OTC medications can be given to control the fever of the patient and to make them feel better.
- Make sure that the patent does not have to go out for purchasing essential things. To ensure this either brings all necessary grocery things and other essentials at home or help them with home delivery services.
- Give them a separate room to sleep, eat, and stay for quarantine. Do not share their personal items and ensure that anyone else as well does not use the sick person’s personal things.
- Make sure that they have limited contacts with pets or if possible totally restrict their contacts with pets.
- Always wear your face mask while providing food, water, or any other services to the infected person. This is highly essential for avoiding your risk of contracting this virus.
- Last but not the least, wash your hands with soap and water too often and clean and disinfect all frequently touched surfaces and objects at home.
As SARS-CoV-2 is a new strain so researchers are still trying to understand more and more about this virus. However, as per the latest CDC, trusted sources report the incubation period of new coronavirus lies between 2 to 14 days. So anyone suspicious with their symptoms may expect their symptoms to come on the surface between these days from the date of their contraction with the virus.