Quick Question: How long does it take for someone who has been infected with COVID-19 to develop symptoms?


This is an important question, but it does not have a straightforward answer. On average, someone who becomes infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 will develop symptoms 5-7 days after their initial exposure.

  • This question has a complicated answer because some people show symptoms, while others will never develop symptoms – these people are called asymptomatic. 
  • To complicate things even further, not everyone’s incubation period will be the same amount of time. The incubation period is the time between being infected with the virus and developing symptoms. This period of time is important because someone who is infected with the virus is likely able to spread the virus before they even know they are sick during this incubation period. Healthcare professionals also use the incubation period to inform patients when they should begin and end their isolation and to advise about when to get tested. 
  • As mentioned, this period of time varies from person to person and those who are asymptomatic do not necessarily experience this period of time because they do not develop symptoms. The typical range of a COVID-19 incubation period is between 2-14 days. It is possible for someone to develop symptoms 14 days after infection, but this is more of a rare occurrence. This is why it is important to wait to get tested until:
  • You have started to feel symptoms
    OR
  • If you have not yet developed symptoms, wait 5-7 days after you believe you were exposed to get tested. 

The diagnostic (PCR) tests are more accurate if the infected person is showing symptoms because there is less of a possibility for a false negative result

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