If a person gets COVID-19 and (hopefully) recovers at home without being hospitalized, how long should that person stay isolated before they can return to social interaction?
The current recommendations of the US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) depend on whether testing is available and has been done. They offer two criteria, the first is non-test-based and the second is test-based.
For persons who have not been tested, the recommended criteria are:
Persons with COVID-19 who have symptoms and were directed to care for themselves at home may discontinue isolation under the following conditions:
- At least 3 days (72 hours) have passed since recovery defined as resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
- Improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath); and,
- At least 7 days have passed since symptoms first appeared.
For those who have been tested, the criteria are:
Persons who have COVID-19 who have symptoms and were directed to care for themselves at home may discontinue isolation under the following conditions:
- Resolution of fever without the use of fever-reducing medications and
- Improvement in respiratory symptoms (e.g., cough, shortness of breath) and
- Negative results of an FDA Emergency Use Authorized molecular assay for COVID-19 from at least two consecutive nasopharyngeal swab specimens collected ≥24 hours apart*** (total of two negative specimens).
***All test results should be final before isolation is ended. Testing guidance is based upon limited information and is subject to change as more information becomes available.
Keep in mind that COVID-19 is a new disease with many unknowns and therefore the recommendations above can and probably will change as more is learned, so anyone using this answer to make a decision should visit the CDC link I provided at the beginning of this answer before making that decision.
Doctors apply a test kit, if you no longer have the virus you are typically released. However, in China some people who gave negative results were released and later they found they still had the virus, because the tests were poor quality or other factors, so now doctors are suggested to combine epidemiological history, clinical and imaging manifestations with the test. But when the doctor releases you, that's when you can socially interact again.