Either way, for better or worse, these are just recommendations. Some employers, educational institutions, states and counties have additional isolation policies, but few locations actively enforce quarantine. Depending on where you tested positive, you might get a call from a contact tracer. Or you might not.
So what happens if you test positive while traveling internationally?
A crucial step while planning any trip is to familiarize yourself with the points at which you will have to take a test and what would happen if you or someone you were traveling with tested positive, including the length and type of quarantine. In some destinations, the only concrete consequence of a positive test is that you can’t board a flight. In other destinations, health officials might require you to stay in a government hospital for more than 10 days.
Dec. 16, 2021, 5:09 p.m. ET
Pack as if you’re going to get stuck, advised Amy Eckhardt, the owner of World View Adventures, a travel agency based in Buffalo, N.Y. That might mean bringing two additional weeks of medication and your work laptop.
Ms. Eckhardt has yet to have a client test positive while abroad, but she’s learned from her own experience. To celebrate her 40th birthday, she spent about a month and a half in Mexico last winter before she had the opportunity to get vaccinated. For the final leg of her trip, she picked a resort in Costa Mujeres that offered free on-site testing and covered the costs of food and lodging during quarantine, if required.
When her results came back positive on Jan. 31, she said, hotel employees asked her to put on a “biohazard orange” wristband and to move from her oceanfront room to a basement room in “the quarantine section.” Because she was the hotel’s first guest to test positive, the staff was still figuring out how to handle such situations. Her resort stationed a guard outside her door, and initially she had to move to a new room across the hall every three days, while people in hazmat-like suits and goggles sanitized the room and placed new towels in the bathroom.
Fortunately, she never developed any serious symptoms and her primary obstacle was boredom, which she countered by posting detailed updates about the iguana on her patio and other humorous observations in a private Facebook group for travel agents. After completing her 10 days of quarantine, she tested negative and flew back to the United States.
How long does it take to test negative?
Someone infected with Covid will typically test positive for five to eight days, said Dr. Freedman of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.