I’m positive! Do I need to self-isolate or quarantine?
If you test positive, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends you should isolate and delay travel for 10 days, regardless of symptoms or a negative test taken within the isolation period. The country where you are staying may have its own rules for quarantine and isolation. The rules differ from country to country and isolation periods may be longer than the 10 days recommended by the C.D.C. Across Europe, many countries follow guidance from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control, which recommends that fully vaccinated people should self-isolate after testing positive. If their symptoms improve and they feel better for at least 24 hours and they test negative for the virus twice within a 24-hour period, they can stop isolating. Or, if after six days they test negative once, they can stop isolating. Unvaccinated people are advised to self-isolate for 10 days, but can leave isolation if they meet the same requirements for negative tests.
Some other destinations, particularly in Asia, may require mandatory quarantine or isolation in a government facility or designated hotel for 14 days or more.
Am I required to tell government officials that I’m positive?
This will depend on the regulations in the country you are visiting, so be sure to check what they say on local health ministry websites. In most places, tourists are not required to officially report a positive test result to the government, although if you took your test in person at a local health facility, the results are often sent to the regional or national health authority.
Where can I stay if I have to isolate?
Most countries, including popular European destinations like Greece, Italy and France, allow visitors testing positive to choose their own accommodation for the recommended period of self-isolation. You can find this information on U.S. embassy websites. If you have booked a hotel or Airbnb for your trip, it is worth calling ahead of time and seeing what their policy is for isolation and whether they have availability should you need to extend your stay.
Some lodging facilities will require you to isolate alone in a separate room, even if your family members or travel companions test negative. You should also ask about access to food and medical facilities, particularly if you are staying in a remote area.
It’s useful to have a plan B in place in case your hotel or rental cannot accommodate you, or to have a cheaper option available if you do have to self-isolate for 10 days. Many countries have designated “quarantine hotels” or apartments and some resorts in popular tourist destinations like Spain, Portugal and Mexico allow guests to quarantine at a discounted rate.
Feeling fine, yet still positive. What now?
While most people are likely to test negative within 10 days of a positive coronavirus test, for some it can take weeks or even months, according to the global health partnership Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. If you find yourself in that position, and feel well enough to travel, you can return to the United States but will need to obtain “documentation of recovery.”
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