Can I get re-infected with COVID-19?
At present, nobody knows for certain whether having had COVID-19 prevents you from becoming re-infected in the future.
That means that if you have had COVID-19 and then develop the symptoms again (a cough, temperature, loss of sense of taste/smell etc), you will need to self- isolate and be tested again.
If I have had COVID-19, am I now immune?
The evidence so far is unclear, although on the limited data available so far, it is likely you will probably have some level of immunity that reduces over time (possibly months).
Nobody knows if having some immunity stops all reinfection (and onward transmission) or just reduces the severity of another infection.
The degree of immunity and the time for which it lasts depend upon many different factors, like your age, gender, individual genetic profile, the strength of the initial immune response and the characteristics of the virus itself as it continues to develop and evolve.
Should I attend work whilst waiting for a COVID-19 test result?
You will need to request a test (freely available from the NHS) as soon as you discover you have symptoms. This is because the evidence available so far suggests that the level of infection usually reduces very quickly within seven days of symptoms presenting.
That means the optimum testing window is within three days of symptoms appearing. You should not attend work whilst you’re waiting for the results of a test.
It’s important to keep in touch with your employer and let them know the results of your test at the earliest opportunity. This is so your employer can try to manage the risks of any onward transmission to any other employees.
I’ve isolated for seven days but I still have symptoms, should I come into work?
Some of the symptoms of COVID-19 seem to be fairly long-lasting in lots of people. A cough (but not a continuous one) and feeling very tired can persists for some time even after the infection has passed.
Because the risk of re-infection is unclear, if you do start to experience a continuous cough and have a high temperature again (at least 48 hours after the last time you had the symptoms) you should self-isolate and request testing again from the NHS or your employer.
If you have a fever or a continuous cough, you should not attend work. As a precaution and to protect others, you should self-isolate until 48 hours after the symptoms have passed.
Should I wait for a negative test before returning to work?
There is some evidence that positive test results can be found over 14 days after symptoms have subsided. Nobody knows what this means at the moment, for example, whether individuals remain infectious or not during this time. Theoretically, it is possible for anyone carrying a virus to infect another person, although it is becoming clear that the level of infectiousness decreases after seven days.
Retesting and isolating whilst waiting for a negative test is not necessary. If you have a positive test result, you should stay off work for seven days (returning to work from day eight), as long as you have been symptom free for 48 hours.
I have symptoms, or they start again at least 48 hours after last time, should I be tested?
Yes, definitely. As the optimum time to get tested is within three days of symptoms presenting, arranging for a test as soon as you find you have symptoms is essential.
To arrange as free test, visit the gov.uk website.
If you need assistance, guidance or support for an employee who has (or has had) COVID-19, please visit our main website.
About Occupational Health Assessment Ltd
Occupational Health Assessment Ltd provides rapid access to expert occupational health support for businesses across the United Kingdom.
With a unique occupational health assessment service and access to clinics in Surrey, Bristol, Birmingham, Manchester and London, the business provides high quality, professional advice at the point of demand.
Please contact us for further information or assistance.