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Isolation or quarantine?

Both concepts involve separating yourself from others, but the difference is how long you need to separate yourself, says Professor Francois Venter.

Venter is part of the Scientists Collective, a group of SA's leading medical scientists and academics, which is currently publishing a series of informative Covid-19 articles on the Daily Maverick.

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He explains what each concept means and the separation period that applies to each.

Self-isolation: When you stay apart from others after developing Covid-19 symptoms or after testing positive for the virus.

It's recommended that you self-isolate for 10 days after the start of Covid-19 symptoms or a positive test result.

Quarantine: When you stay apart from others after having a high-risk exposure to Covid-19.

It's recommended that you quarantine for 14 days if you have been exposed to a Covid-19 positive contact at a close range or for a prolonged period (more than 15 minutes) without any safety measures in place.

Professor Venter says these guidelines are based on scientific evidence and adds that there's no need to test or retest at the end of quarantine or isolation periods.

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The professor also explains why isolation is only 10 days while quarantine is 14 days.

If you've got the symptoms, the incubation period is over... we know that once the symptoms have started, from the point of symptom to the point of not being infectious is about 10 days to be safe.

Prof Francois Venter, Director of Ezintsha - Wits Reproductive Health & HIV Institute

With quarantine, you don't know you're going to get it so you've still got to factor in the incubation period... that's why it' longer, the extra 4 days are added on.

Prof Francois Venter, Director of Ezintsha - Wits Reproductive Health & HIV Institute

I'm on my third period of quarantine, I think every South African is probably going to have to do this several times over the next year or so.

Prof Francois Venter, Director of Ezintsha - Wits Reproductive Health & HIV Institute

Listen to the discussion on Afternoon Drive with John Maytham:

This article first appeared on CapeTalk : How long should you self-isolate or quarantine for? An expert explains

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