How long does Omicron last? When are you most contagious with Covid and how long do you need to isolate for?

In the last seven days there have been 29,950 cases of Covid across Northern Ireland.

Whilst cases of Covid in Northern Ireland are falling, the Omicron variant is still causing thousand of cases.

According to the NI Health Dashboard, there have been 29,950 cases of Covid across Northern Ireland, in the last seven days alone.

Covid restrictions will be easing this week and self isolation in Northern Ireland has now been cut to five days.

How long does Omicron last and when are you most contagious with Covid?

Here’s everything you need to know about how long Omicron lasts, and when you are most infectious.

How long does Omicron last?

The World Health Organisation (WHO) believe that symptoms of Omicron can develop between three and five days of infection.

When are you most contagious?

People are believed to be most infectious one to two days after their symptoms begin and during day two and three.

This is why Omicron spreads so quickly and is so infectious.

For previous variants, there was a longer time frame, with symptoms developing between two days and two weeks after infection.

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What are the symptoms of Omicron?

The main symptoms of Covid-19 according to the NHS include:

High temperature: This means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature).

New, continuous cough: This is defined as coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual).

Loss or change to your sense of smell or taste (anosmia): This means you have noticed you cannot smell or taste anything, or things smell or taste different to normal.

But, many people who have caught Omicron have noted additional symptoms that are similar to the cold.

Additional symptoms include:


Scratchy throat

Runny nose


If you experience any of these symptoms or feel unwell at anytime you should take a lateral flow test and isolate immediately.

You can order lateral flow tests for free from the government here.

In Northern Ireland, if your lateral flow test is positive, you no longer need to take a PCR test to confirm this result.

You will need to report your lateral flow test to the Government website here.

What are the isolation rules in Northern Ireland?

If you have tested positive for Covid in Northern Ireland, you must now isolate for five days.

You can leave isolation on day 6, if you have had a negative lateral flow on day 5 and day 6 and do not have a temperature.

You can find out more about the isolation rules in Northern Ireland on the Department of Health's website, here.

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