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Published on June 15, 2020

asymptomatic vs pre-symptomatic

The asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic spread of COVID-19


By Megan Meller, Infection Preventionist


Anyone can spread COVID-19 before realizing they’re infected.

You’re infectious for up to two days before you notice symptoms. This is called pre-symptomatic spread and it’s common.

You’re infectious even if you never have symptoms. This is called an asymptomatic infection and it’s also common.

COVID-19 causes a wide range of symptoms in others. Some have mild symptoms like a sore throat, headache, or a runny nose that can be confused for allergies or a cold. Others fall ill and develop shortness of breath, pneumonia or require hospitalization.

We don't know why some people never get sick, have only mild symptoms or require hospitalization.

You don’t know if you are COVID-negative, asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic without a test. Assume you have COVID-19 in public and when interacting with others.

You play a role in reducing the spread. Get vaccinated, wash your hands often and distance and mask in public.

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