The National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) has answered some FAQs for those who need to return to work after testing positive for Covid.
Q: My manager asked me to retest before I can return to work even though I have been in isolation for 10 days.
A: At this time, it is not recommended to re-examine people who have suffered from mild illness and have recovered from Covid-19. A person is considered safe to return to the workplace and stop isolating themselves if they are no longer contagious. This means that they developed their first symptoms more than 10 days before and that they have not experienced any symptoms for at least three days (72 hours). However, the return to work depends on the patient’s clinical state of health.
Q: Is it a fact that after 10 days you can no longer transfer the virus?
A: The most contagious period is thought to be between one and three days before symptoms appear and within the first seven days after symptoms appear. But some people can stay infected longer and this is because, generally, with viruses, the higher the viral load (the more the virus circulates in the body), the greater the risk of transmission through known routes of transmission. Student. So, the more severe the disease and the higher the viral load, the more you continue to shed the virus and be contagious.
If a person with a mild illness has no symptoms for 3 days and developed their first symptoms more than 10 days previously, they are no longer considered infectious.
Q: Do I need a documented negative result to return to work?
A: If a worker has been diagnosed with Covid-19 and isolated according to guidelines, an employer can only allow a worker to return to work under the following conditions:
The worker has completed the mandatory 10 days of self-isolation;
The worker may be required to undergo a medical assessment confirming fitness for work.
Upon return to work, the worker must then wear a surgical mask for 21 days from the positive result of the test at work and practice social distancing and good respiratory and hand hygiene.
Q: Will the mandatory 10 days of self-isolation be taken from annual or sick leave for employees?
A: The employee’s right to sick leave is described in Article 22 of the Basic Conditions of Employment Act. More information about this on Covid-19 can be found on page 8 of http://www.nioh.ac.za/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/C19-OHS-Directives-June-2020. pdf.
Q: Shouldn’t I test negative before returning to work?
A: People who have self-quarantined themselves because they have been in contact with a confirmed case of Covid-19 and who have completed their 10-day quarantine period without developing symptoms, can return to work during the day. 11. It is not necessary to be tested before returning to work. However, it is recommended that they continue to practice social distancing and good hygiene as a precaution and wear a surgical mask.
At this time, it is not recommended to re-examine people who have suffered from mild illness and have recovered from Covid-19. A person is considered safe to return to work and stop isolating themselves if they are no longer contagious. This means that they developed their first symptoms more than 10 days before and have not had any symptoms for at least 72 hours. There should be a workplace with precautions in place that include social distancing, the use of good respiratory hand hygiene, and the wearing of a surgical mask for 21 days from the date of testing. A medical evaluation may be necessary to determine the ability to do their job.
Q: I tested negative but the symptoms are still there… what now?
A: A patient may have a false negative if they have very little virus or maybe the sample was taken inappropriately. The test swab did not rise high enough to reach where the virus was. If a patient exhibits symptoms of Covid-19 – cough, fever, shortness of breath – but tests negative, they should see their healthcare professional for further evaluation.
Q: What if I still test positive after four weeks without symptoms?
A: Patients can remain positive on the test even when they are no longer contagious. A positive PCR test does not equate to an infectious and viable virus. Patients can be disisolated without the need to repeat PCR tests, provided the patient’s fever has resolved and their symptoms have improved. People with mild illness may be disisolated 10 days after symptom onset, while those with severe illness may be disisolated 10 days after reaching clinical stability (for example, after oxygen backup is stopped).
Q: What if I still have symptoms after 10 days? Am I not putting my colleagues at risk?
A: It is common for patients to continue to have symptoms for longer than the above periods (10 days). Full recovery can take several weeks. Patients who are still showing symptoms at the end of their isolation period can be de-isolated provided their fever has gone away (without the use of antipyretics – drugs that reduce fever) and their symptoms have improved. If symptoms persist, the worker should seek medical evaluation from their physician.
Q: I was tested over two weeks ago and have yet to receive my results. Can I return to work?
A: Suspected cases of Covid-19 who have mild illness can be cared for at home while awaiting testing, isolated from the workplace. These workers should contact their manager and not be at work until they get results. Constant communication with their employer is essential during this time so that the workplace can take action to manage and clean up if necessary.