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How Long Does It Take for COVID Symptoms to Appear?

A doctor and the WHO tell you how long it takes for COVID symptoms to appear.

With all the worries about coronavirus bring wildly contagious, you may be wondering, how long does it take for COVID symptoms to appear? There are a million risk factors out there for contracting coronavirus, and wondering how long does it take for COVID symptoms to appear is of great concern. Did you recently attend a party that had 18 people instead of the recommended 10? Hang out at a bar with a "face masks are optional" policy? Go to happy hour with a friend who just tested positive for COVID-19? If you think you may have put yourself in a situation that could have exposed you to the virus, it's important to take it seriously.

How Long Does It Take for COVID Symptoms to Appear?

So, how long after your potential exposure should you begin to feel coronavirus symptoms? According to the World Health Organization (WHO), "On average it takes 5 to 6 days from when someone is infected with the virus for symptoms to show, however it can take up to 14 days."

Five to 14 days is a long period of time to sit around and wait to see if you develop a fever, cough, shortness of breath, loss of smell or taste, or other COVID-19 symptoms. However, it's crucial that you quarantine after your "incident" to ensure you don't infect anyone else. 

It's so important to stay away from people during this time "because you could start to develop symptoms within two to 14 days after exposure, and can still be contagious before you even develop symptoms," according to Dr. Michael Richardson, MD from One Medical.

Even If You Don't Feel Symptoms, You May Be Contagious

Even if you don't feel symptoms within this timeframe, you could still be carrying the virus, so stay away from friends, family, and other household members if you think you may have been exposed. If you don't feel symptoms in five to 14 days after exposure, consider getting tested for COVID-19. You may be asymptomatic but still carrying the virus and fully capable of passing it on to other people.

If you suspect you were around someone with coronavirus or you know you put yourself in a dangerous situation for infection, it's better to be safe than sorry. Keep an eye on how you feel to see if you develop symptoms. Quarantine for at least 14 days and get a test if you suspect you've been exposed to the virus. You can protect the ones you love and those at risk for severe illness by following these responsible steps after potential exposure.  

Kelly Hernandez
Kelly Hernandez is a health and wellness writer and certified personal trainer. Read more about Kelly