Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility My wife and I had COVID-19. Can we fly to visit her 90-year-old father? | #vacation | #seniors | #elderly – Active Lifestyle Media

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VacationMy wife and I had COVID-19. Can we fly to visit her 90-year-old father? | #vacation | #seniors | #elderly

My wife and I had COVID-19. Can we fly to visit her 90-year-old father? | #vacation | #seniors | #elderly

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Welcome to “Pandemic Problems,” an advice column from The Chronicle’s engagement reporters that aims to help Bay Area residents solve their pandemic-related conundrums — personal, practical or professional. Send your questions and issues to pandemicproblems@sfchronicle.com.

Today’s question is fielded by The Chronicle’s Annie Vainshtein.

Dear Advice Team: My wife and I made it relatively unscathed through a bout with COVID-19 last month. We’ve read that we now should have some immunity for at least three months. My wife’s father turns 90 in February and we would like to fly to visit him at that time. Will it be safe to do so? We trust that the airlines are handling the pandemic well, but are worried about bringing the virus to a frail relative. Might we still be “carriers”? Should we be worried?

Dear Reader,

Your question touches on several important subjects during the pandemic — travel, immunity, and mitigating risk for those more vulnerable than us. It’s great that you have a little bit of time before February to really think deeply about this situation.

First, I’m very glad to hear that you and your wife had relatively mild cases of COVID-19. You didn’t specify whether you both tested positive, but if you’re sure you both were infected, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says you should have some immunity for at least three months. Given the timeline you provided, February should be right around the tail end of those 90 days, which does put the two of you in a better position for riskier activity than those who haven’t already been infected.

One of your questions is whether you could still be infectious and transmit the virus to your elderly relative. As of now, the literature shows that the vast majority of patients who were infected with the coronavirus do not shed virus past the 20-day mark, or 20 days after their symptoms, said Jennifer Babik, an infectious disease specialist and associate professor at UCSF. Some people will test positive after that 20-day mark, but at that point, the virus is thought not to be infectious.

But another question you seem to be asking is about reinfection. Although the research is still limited and there are a lot of unknowns, only a small number of documented cases of reinfections have occurred within the more than 77 million documented cases of coronavirus around the world, and most of those have occurred beyond three months, said Babik. There is a chance there could be more, but “even if there are thousands, if we’re using a denominator of 77 million, that’s a fraction of a percent,” she said.

Dean Winslow, an infectious disease doctor at Stanford University, agrees that the risk is very low. “Reinfection is very, very, very rare,” he said. “The risk is not zero, that they could potentially transmit COVID-19, but I think the risk is very, very small, so it’s probably safe.”



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