Fact or Fiction: Does a positive COVID test always mean contagious?

Updated: Aug. 25, 2020 at 4:43 PM EDT
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CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - What we know about the new coronavirus is rapidly expanding, and experts are adjusting their recommendations to keep up to date.

We asked the state health department your questions about swab testing and whether tests might detect dead parts of the virus that are no longer contagious but result in a positive COVID-19 test result.

Turns out- yes- that is possible.

The South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control told us swab tests “look for the presence of genetic material from the virus. The test doesn’t determine whether the genetic material belongs to an intact virus or a fragment of the virus or whether it is capable of infecting another person or not.”

They say that’s why the CDC changed its guidance in July and no longer recommends waiting for a negative test to release a COVID patient from home isolation.

Now, the CDC recommends use of a symptom-based strategy, saying a person may be released from isolation when all the following occurs:

  • 1) At least 10 days have passed since symptom onset
  • 2) They’ve been at least 24 hours fever-free without use of fever-reducing meds
  • 3) Other symptoms have improved.

Do you have a question you'd like answered about the coronavirus?

Email Tips@live5news.com and we’ll take your questions to the experts for our next Fact or Fiction segment.

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