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Be conservative on covid-19 incubation period
16 April, 2020
Understanding the incubation period is very important for health authorities, as well as citizens, because it allows them to introduce more effective quarantine systems for people suspected of carrying the virus, as a way of controlling and hopefully preventing the spread of the virus. The incubation period is defined as the time from exposure to onset of disease, i.e., it corresponds to the time from infection with a microorganism to symptom development. (Dhar and Sharma, 2008) The incubation period for COVID-19 virus is estimated to be between 2 and 14 days based on the following sources:Figure 1.1 shows estimated incubation period for COVID-19 virus from different sources
However, a study done by Bai et. al. 2020 reported a case with an incubation period of 19 days. Other studies have found incubation periods of 24 days (Guan W et. al. 2020) and 27 days (Shen S. and Woo R., 2020). Therefore, a longer incubation period could complicate efforts to contain the spread of the pandemic. On the basis of these different incubation periods, considerable efforts to reduce the transmission will require longer quarantine periods for those that had direct contacts with a confirmed case if they test negative after 14 days of quarantine.
Currently, African countries have not reported any longer incubation period for COVID-19. But the Sustainable Development Goals Center for Africa (SDGCA) encourages African countries to expect this kind of incubation period for some patients and suggests the following measures.
- The recommended incubation period is 14 days, but expect longer incubation period for some patients.
- Make sure you follow up on those who are at risk of contracting the virus and inform them to remain in quarantine in their respective homes even after testing negative after 14 days of quarantine.
- Those in quarantine should check their temperature every day, monitor existence of certain symptoms e. cough, fever, tiredness and difficulty breathing, and report them to the recommended personnel as soon as possible.
- Encourage citizens to wash hands with soap frequently.
- Encourage citizens to report symptoms they encounter despite testing negative after 14 days of quarantine.
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