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Most people with even mild COVID-19 are still infectious five days after symptoms begin, a new UK study has revealed. 

The study published in the ‘Lancet Respiratory Medicine’ said, “Combining the latest results with what is already known about the dynamics of Omicron infections the duration of infectiousness is “broadly generalisable" to all current COVID variants."

“The findings suggest that in people who develop symptoms, the majority are not infectious before symptoms develop, but two-thirds of cases are still infectious five days after their symptoms begin."

The research was conducted by the scientist of Imperial College London. 

The research also suggests that while lateral flow tests (LFTs) do not detect the start of infectiousness well, they more accurately identify when someone is no longer infectious and can safely leave isolation.

“We closely monitored people in their homes from when they were first exposed to the virus, capturing the moment when they developed infection through until they ceased being infectious," said Professor Lalvani, Director of the NIHR Respiratory Infections Health Protection Research Unit at Imperial College London.

“Before this study we were missing half of the picture about infectiousness, because it’s hard to know when people are first exposed to SARS-CoV-2 [COVID-19] and when they first become infectious. By using special daily tests to measure infectious virus (not just PCR) and daily symptom records we were able to define the window in which people are infectious. This is fundamental to controlling any pandemic and has not been previously defined for any respiratory infection in the community," he said.

“Our evidence can be used to inform infection control policies and self-isolation guidance to help reduce the transmission of SARS-CoV-2," he added.

(With inputs from agencies)

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