What is the timeline between being exposed to COVID-19 and symptoms?
The time from exposure to symptom onset (known as the incubation period) can be as few as 2 days to more than 14 days, though the average time for symptoms to appear is five days after exposure.
97.5% of those who become symptomatic will begin to show symptoms within 11.5 days. However, 1 in 100 people will take longer than 14 days.
We know that a person with COVID-19 can be contagious 2 to 3 days before starting to experience symptoms. People are most likely to spread the virus to others during the 48 hours before they start to experience symptoms.
Face masks, physical distancing, and contact tracing can help reduce the risk that someone who is infected but not yet experiencing symptoms may unknowingly infect others.
Sky Pittson, MD, October 5, 2020