Australians are contracting COVID-19 at record rates and many of us now know someone who’s either currently sick or recovered from the disease.

But if you’re wondering whether your friend’s positive test means you should be concerned about seeing them last week, navigating the health advice can be a minefield.

Here are answers to some of our audience’s most searched-for questions about COVID-19 exposure.

What’s the incubation period for COVID-19? Is Omicron shorter?

According to the Australian Department of Health, the incubation period for COVID-19 can range between one and 14 days, with most cases displaying symptoms by day 5 or 6 after exposure.

However, research into the Omicron variant, which is still in its early stages, suggests people exposed to the new strain will develop symptoms or return a positive test sooner.

In a study examining the Omicron variant published on December 31 by the US Centers For Disease Control (CDC), the median time between exposure and onset of symptoms was found to be three days.

Other studies in Europe have also suggested three days is the median incubation period.

When are you most infectious if you have COVID?

According to the CDC, most cases of transmission occur early in a person’s infection, in the one or two days before the onset of symptoms, and in the two or three days afterwards.

People can be particularly infectious before they start displaying symptoms because they are less likely to take measures to limit the virus’s spread.

You can become infectious before you start displaying symptoms of COVID-19.

How long are you contagious for with COVID?

According to Harvard Medical School, most people will not be contagious 10 days after the onset of their symptoms, provided their symptoms have improved.

Australia’s isolation guidelines mean that people are expected to no longer be contagious if their symptoms have ceased and they have completed seven days of isolation from the date they were tested.

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Article orginally published on the 7th January 2022 on ABC News.