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How to use rapid home antigen tests for determining isolation period for COVID

Some practical steps that can be followed for determining isolation period for COVID-19

This assumes that home rapid antigen test kits are available. 

When to use a home rapid antigen test?

  • Any COVID symptoms (cough, cold, stomach symptoms, fever, breathing difficulty, excessive body ache or fatigue etc.)

  • In case of contact with a COVID positive person 

  • Anyone who has initially tested positive on any COVID test (either on RTPCR or home rapid antigen test)

For guidance on home care for mild and asymptomatic COVID patients at home - CLICK HERE

Three possible scenarios:

Person has symptoms and COVID test is positive 

  • Isolate and then repeat home rapid test on Day 6 of symptoms

  • If rapid test is negative and symptoms resolve then isolation can end

  • If rapid test is positive on Day 6 then continue isolating till rapid test is negative

Person has symptoms but COVID test negative 

  • Isolate and redo the home rapid test on Day 6 of symptoms

  • If rapid test is again negative and symptoms resolve then isolation can end

  • If rapid test is positive then continue isolating till it is negative

  • If symptoms are concerning & rapid test is repeatedly negative then consider RTPCR

Person does not have any symptoms but COVID test is positive

  • Isolate and redo the rapid test on Day 6. If negative end isolation.

  • If rapid test turns positive – continue isolation till it is negative 


  • DO NOT use RTPCR test to end isolation.  RTPCR often continues to remain positive for a long time even after infection has resolved. RTPCR is only useful for diagnosing COVID not for determining when to end isolation. 

  • If you do not have home rapid antigen test kit then it is best to isolate for 10 days from start of symptoms or date of initial positive test result - whichever is earlier. 

  • Anyone who tested positive at any point and ends isolation before 12 days should continue diligent masking and limit interactions with others till day 12

  • Even a faint double line on the home rapid antigen test is a positive test. Please read the test result within the time window given in instruction leaflet. Do not rush. 

  • Read instructions for your test kit carefully before using. Instructions vary for each brand. 

  • The instruction leaflet with the test kit clearly indicates how to interpret test result on your own without needing external help. 

  • List of ICMR approved home rapid test kits with links to videos on how to use (test kits are available for purchase online and in stores) – 

  • Disclaimer – This tip sheet is meant to be educational & suggestive and is not a substitute for medical advice. The isolation guidelines in your country, state or institution may vary from this. Please follow what is locally advisable. 

  • We regret that this guidance is currently available only in English. If anyone wishes to translate this into their local languages please get in touch with us. Thanks. 

  • Credits. Dr. Sonali Vaid, Dr. Ankur Sooden, Dr. CS Pramesh, Dr. Shivangi Shankar

  • Last Updated. 5th Jan 2022

  • Please email for any feedback or questions

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