When are you most contagious with Covid? Here's when Covid is at its most contagious and how to stop the spread of the virus

With Covid-19 cases rising once more in Scotland, here’s what you need to know about the virus and when Covid is believed to be at its most contagious.

Tuesday, 7th September 2021, 9:56 am

The latest wave of coronavirus cases comes following the lifting of restrictions across the UK, with Scotland most recently moving out of Level 0 on Monday 9 August.

On Monday 6 September, daily positive Covid cases in Scotland soared to over 7,000 as students prepared to start a new term and enjoy freshers week at some Scottish universities.

Read More

Read More
Covid Scotland: Coronavirus cases jump by more than 7,000 in 24 hours

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

When are you most contagious with Covid? Here's when Covid is at its most contagious and how to stop the spread of the virus (Image credit: Getty Images)

In England, tweaks to the NHS Covid-19 contact tracing app have seen the app’s sensitivity lowered to ease concerns over another ‘pingdemic’ seen in July as record numbers of people were instructed by the app to self-isolate.

But cases continue to rise in England and Wales with latest figures for the countries showing 26,823 and 5,161 new positive cases on 6 September, respectively.

As we continue to enjoy eased restrictions amid rising case levels, here’s when Covid is at its most contagious and how to stop the spread of the virus.

When are you most contagious with Covid?

According to the UK government, people with Covid-19 are able to infect others from roughly two days before they start to display symptoms.

But it also states that you can remain contagious up to 10 days after symptoms appear.

This echoes findings of a study published in Lancet Microbe last year which showed that people were more likely to pass the virus on to others in the first days of contracting it.

Common Covid symptoms such as a loss of taste, smell and new, continuous cough generally begin to appear five days after catching the virus.

Government guidance and rules around self-isolation stress that you should self-isolate immediately if you have been identified as a close contact.

If you have not yet received both doses of a coronavirus vaccine, you will need to self-isolate for 10 days and not mix with anyone else to prevent you from passing on the virus to others when you are at your most contagious or not displaying symptoms.

Those who have been fully vaccinated can stop self-isolating on receiving a negative PCR test result under new Scottish rules established on 9 August.

How do I know if I’ve caught Covid-19?

The main coronavirus symptoms to watch out for are a sore throat, loss of taste or smell, new, continuous cough and high temperature.

But as the virus continues to mutate and spread through new variants like the Delta variant and Lambda variant, symptoms can also show some changes.

From what we know so far, Delta variant symptoms include runny noses, headaches, sore throats and fevers.

The highly transmissible variant sweeping across the UK is now thought to account for the majority of the country’s Covid-19 cases.

You could also be contacted by Test and Protect contact tracers in Scotland, Test and Trace in England and Wales or receive an alert from a coronavirus contact tracing app like Protect Scotland and NHS Covid-19 app.

These various methods will be used if you have been identified as a close contact of someone who has reported a positive Covid test and been confirmed to have caught the virus.

What should I do if I think I’ve caught Covid?

To confirm whether you have caught coronavirus if you haven’t started to display symptoms, you should take a rapid lateral flow test.

This will give you a result in 30 minutes which can then be confirmed with a PCR test.

But if you have started to show symptoms you will need to order a PCR test and self-isolate until you receive a negative result if fully vaccinated.

Current rules in Scotland state that if someone in your household has started to display Covid symptoms, everyone in this household must isolate until a negative result is received – but the person isolating must not have been identified as a close contact of a confirmed case.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.