With most vaccinated people developing none or very mild symptoms when infected by the Omicron variant of Covid-19, many are choosing to stay isolated at home.  However, how long should the infected stay isolated to ensure they are free of the virus and can safely interact with others?

Leading virologist Dr Yong Poovorawan said studies show that the virus count starts to drop sharply seven days after the symptoms are first observed.

The studies cited have been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association and New England Journal of Medicine.

“After 10 days, the viral load will be extremely low and too weak to be transmitted to others. Hence, the suitable period for self-isolation is at least 10 days from when the symptoms appeared or when you tested positive,” Yong said. “If you can’t complete the 10-day requirement, then at least isolate for seven days and then employ strict preventive measures when interacting with others in the following three days to prevent the spread of the virus.”

The virologist added that the virus shedding period is similar for vaccinated and unvaccinated people.

“Though unvaccinated persons carry a higher viral load compared to those who are fully jabbed, their virus count drops to the same level as vaccinated persons after day 10,” he said.