Question Covid-19 and Long Distance Relationship

Sep 26, 2020
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Hello,
my girlfried and I live in a long-distance-relationship where we sometimes don't meet for weeks. Since the corona outbreak, we've both been very careful, wear masks in public and shifted 90% of our work to home-office.

Lately, after we hadn't seen each other for a while, she got sick at her place, had herself tested for Covid-19 ... and the test was positive :(
After one week of really feeling severly ill (not life-threatening though), she is slowly getting better, but still self-quarantaining at her place, with running nose remaining and the frightening aspect of having completely lost her sense of smell and most of her sense of taste.

Meanwhile me, hundreds of miles away, luckily still 100% symptom free all over this time, without being tested, however. (Actually she likely got her infection long after we met the last time)

Now we do not really know how to handle this entire situation, especially when to meet again??? Local health department tells her, she'd be absolutely negative and 100% non-contageous as soon as 24h after her running nose (or other symptoms, apart from the not smelling which doesn't count as infecteous) have dissappeared. Can anyone confirm that? It's a weird situation when the only person in the world that you personally know has this infamous Covid, is your girlfriend who you wanna kiss, share the same bed and be together with... I personally must admit that I'm afraid of that virus, both for me (probably not having had it yet) and of course for my girlfriend where it hopefully doesn't do any damage on the long run.

So I have a collection of questions:
  • Is someone who has had Covid-19, really 100% non-contageous right after the symptoms are gone for 24h? What about those stories where people start feeling better but get a real fall-back weeks and weeks later? And what about contageous people who didn't have symptoms in the first place?
    (Getting a second test, negative then, is not so easy where she is living)

  • Is there any symptomatical treatment that helps getting well sooner, and especially bringing the sense of smell back?

  • Can somebody who once had it (thus has antibodies) still become infected (without getting sick themselves) and be a carrier of the virus to other people?

  • Might the appartment/bed of a Covid patient (where they self-quarantaine all the time) still be contaminated with the virus? Is a special cleaning procedure neccessary or is ordinary laundry, and vacuum cleaning sufficient. As the virus is said to be high contageous I wonder if it remains in kissen fillings and mattresses for a while...?

  • What would you do in our situation? When would it be safe to meet each other again without protective equipment and distancing?
    Should I maybe do a voluntary antibody test (maybe if I once had with no symptomps like some people)
 
Last edited:
Jul 24, 2020
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A few studies have shown that sars-cov-2 patients are no longer infectious after around day 8 of symptoms. I would think 10 days would be a decent time period to assume this, or to be extra cautious you could wait 14 days. After this time period, the patient will still most likely be shedding virus, in the sense that it can be picked up by pcr test, and so might test positive for coronavirus. However, this does not necessarily mean that they are still infectious. That is the reason why you are asked to isolate for 14 days -because the pcr test cannot determine the stage of your infection, only that you have the presence of virus rna in your sample. Therefore a second test is probably not going to be very helpful, especially considering that you say they are difficult to get for her. Basically, after 14 days you should be ok.

Somebody with antibodies may become reinfected with a different strain. We have seen a small number of cases around the world. Its hard to say just now how common place this is, and whether these cases were outliers.

My advice to you is not to worry about the objects in the apartment. Sars-cov-2 is a rsspiratory infection that is predominantly spread through close contact with an infected person. The risk of infection through inanimate objects, was slightly exagerrated during the early days of the pandemic and research has shown that the infectious state of the virus does not survive for longer than a day or so on objects. Just wash the sheets and maintain good housekeeping as normal, you dont need to go crazy with a deep clean.

I hope that this helps to reassure you somewhat, but i encourage you to verify my advice with your own research. This is how i would personally respond if i was in your situation.
 
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Jul 24, 2020
20
4
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My advice to you is not to worry about the objects in the apartment. Sars-cov-2 is a rsspiratory infection that is predominantly spread through close contact with an infected person. The risk of infection through inanimate objects, was slightly exagerrated during the early days of the pandemic and research has shown that the infectious state of the virus does not survive for longer than a day or so on objects. Just wash the sheets and maintain good housekeeping as normal, you dont need to go crazy with a deep clean.
Today some new research was widely reported in the press that offered a new understanding of the above, previously understood from a study posted to the CDC website (here). The recent study out of Australia, found viable infectious sars-cov-2 to persist for at least 28 days on non-porous materials (glass, polymer note, stainless steel, vinyl and paper notes), and 14 days on porous cotton cloth. All experiments were conducted in the dark so such viability may not be observed in the real world conditions. In spite of what may be considered alarming news, infection from objects (fomite transmission) is still considered to be not very significant for sars-cov-2 in comparision to the airborne and droplet routes.
 
Sep 26, 2020
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Hey, thank you so far for those detailed answers :)

Today, however, I'm still anxious here:

Actually, we want to meet again the upcoming weekend, her running nose has finally recovered, but she still (even after a total of 5 weeks) has completely loss of smell, which is very sad (as it is supposed to recover within 2-4 weeks on average). And as for me, I'm afraid if this might still make her contageous to me... in terms of if there are still rests of the virus (causing this anosmia) which could be infectious.
 
Last edited:
Jul 24, 2020
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As far as i know, the cause of the loss of smell isnt fully understood, but it is for sure a highly specific symptom of covid. There is some thought that it may be a neurological effect of infection, and alternatively some research pointing to infection of non-neural cells in the nose. Either way, this condition may be as short as a few weeks or may persist for longer, perhaps in some cases be permanent. Viruses can cause damage to different cell types during an infection, that can remain long after the infection has been cleared and this may cause some disruption to normal function as the damage is repaired. As i said in my initial reply, the contagious phase of infection has been observed to be last around 10 days after symptom onset. After 5 weeks, you should have confidence that she is no longer infectious to you, and she is now even beyond the usual time for virus to still be shedding in the respiratory tract at this point. A runny nose is a common symptom to many common cold and flu-like virus infections so its possible that she has picked up another bug thats been going around since recovery. Although you said that it would be hard to get tested again, i feel like a negative test result is the only thing that will settle your anxiety, so it might be something you want to consider.
 
Jul 24, 2020
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As i said in my initial reply, the contagious phase of infection has been observed to be last around 10 days after symptom onset.
A paper released earlier this week, reviewed the studies on the duration of viral shedding and
of the viability of infectious virus in this period. They found:

"The pooled median duration of RNA shedding from respiratory samples of subjects was 18.4 days;
In reviewed studies, viable virus from respiratory cultures was not recovered past day 9 of illness for mildly ill patients but was cultured from severely ill patients through day 20"
...
"Only one study reported culturing viable virus from a respiratory sample beyond the second week of illness. Based on this information, it seems more likely that a positive PCR past 2-3 weeks of illness represents shedding of non-viable virus."

Understanding Viral Shedding of SARS-CoV-2: Review of Current Literature

I hope that this will help you make a more informed decision in your situation
 

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