How long does Covid last? When coronavirus cough and other symptoms go away - and ‘long covid’ explained

If you were to contract Covid-19, how long would you be feeling the effects of the virus?

Despite Covid levels in the UK matching those seen over the summer of 2021, the pandemic continues, especially overseas where the number of cases continues to surge.

The virus is still out there, and with regular reminders to maintain caution as the country eases itself out of lockdown, you might be wondering just how long you'll be ill for if you do contract Covid-19.

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Here are all your answers.

(Photo: OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

How long does it take for symptoms to appear?

A study by American scientists and immunologists examined hundreds of cases of Covid-19 to gain a more accurate picture of the virus’ incubation period – the time between when you contract the virus and when your symptoms start.

Published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, the findings suggest that on average, it takes just over five days for symptoms of Covid-19 to develop.

The study also found that 97 per cent of all people who get the virus will develop symptoms within 11 days at most from the time when they were first infected.

The estimates in the report “can help public health officials to set rational and evidence-based Covid-19 control policies,” its authors wrote.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) say: “The time between exposure to Covid-19 and the moment when symptoms start is commonly around five to six days but can range from 1 – 14 days.”

How long do coronavirus symptoms last?

Based on current government guidelines for self-isolation, it's expected that symptoms of Covid-19 can last anything between seven and 10 days in a person, although in some cases symptoms could persist for longer.

Recovery time will depend on how sick you became in the first place – age, gender and any underlying health issues can all increase the risk of becoming seriously ill from Covid-19.

Most people who have tested positive for coronavirus and did not require treatment in intensive care typically recover from the virus within three weeks; fever should settle in about a week’s time, though a cough and any change to your sense of taste or smell could persist for several weeks.

Those who experience much more severe symptoms of the disease tend to do so about seven to 10 days into the infection. Some GPs say it could take two to eight weeks to fully recover in more serious cases, with tiredness lingering.

What is Long Covid?

“Long Covid” is a term that is used to describe those who have recovered from a coronavirus infection, but are still experiencing some lasting effects, or the usual symptoms have lasted far longer than normally expected.

An estimated 10 per cent of people remain unwell beyond the usual time period, while a smaller proportion can experience symptoms for months, according to a study by King’s College.

The study found that some 250,000 people in the UK alone are thought to suffer symptoms for 30 days or more.

In many cases, people who suffered with long-lasting effects of the virus were fit, active and healthy.

The long-term symptoms that some people experience often vary widely and encompass both physical and neurological effects, with these lasting into weeks and even months in some cases.

What should I do if I have coronavirus symptoms?

If you have symptoms of Covid-19 however mild, self-isolate for at least 10 days from when your symptoms started.

You should arrange to have a test to see if you have Covid-19. Do this over the phone or online. Do not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital.

If you are not experiencing symptoms but have tested positive for Covid-19, you must self-isolate for at least 10 days, starting from the day the test was taken.

If you develop symptoms during this isolation period, restart your 10-day isolation from the day you developed symptoms.

You could be fined if you do not stay at home and self-isolate following a positive test result for Covid-19 or if you are contacted by NHS Test and Trace and instructed to self-isolate.

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