Raleigh, N.C. — If you’ve been exposed to COVID-19, getting tested too early could provide a false sense of security with a negative test result.
“If you’ve been exposed to a known case of COVID-19, your job is to stay out of circulation, be away from people and then after some time getting a test,” said Dr. David Wohl from UNC’s Infectious Diseases Clinic.
Wohl suggests waiting at least five days or so after exposure before getting tested to be sure and so the end result isn’t a false positive test result. He said it takes time for the virus to grow, and if you get tested too soon, the virus will not be detected — resulting in a negative test.
“If somebody like Kellyanne Conway breathes in some virus and it gets in her nose, that first day it’s going to be negative if I test her,” Wohl said. “But over the next few days, as that virus replicates and replicates and replicates, there will be so much more virus for me to find.”
Wohl suggests quarantining immediately if you have been exposed to reduce the risk of infecting others as they don’t know for sure the moment people can become contagious.
Wohl added that getting multiple tests in a row doesn’t make sense. He said it can be a waste of resources and take away the opportunity for others who need to be tested.