Those patients all tested negative for the virus at some point after recovering, but then tested positive again, some up to 70 days later, the doctors said. Many have done so over 50-60 days.
China has successfully slowed the spread of coronavirus disease Covid-19, and in outbreak epicentre Wuhan, life also returned to normal.
But a new mystery is now baffling the doctors in China: A growing number of patients who had recovered from the Sars-CoV-2 virus continue to test positive without showing symptoms.
A man told news agency Reuters that he had stayed at three hospitals in Wuhan before being moved to a flat in the centre. He had taken over 10 tests since the third week of February, he said, on occasions testing negative but mostly positive.
“I feel fine and have no symptoms, but they check and it’s positive, check and it’s positive,” he said. “What is with this virus?”
The prospect of people remaining positive for the virus, and therefore potentially infectious, is of international concern, as many countries seek to end lockdowns and resume economic activity as the spread of the virus slows. Currently, the globally recommended isolation period after exposure is 14 days.
China has not published precise figures for how many patients fall into this category. But according to Reuters, there are at least dozens of such cases.
In South Korea, about 1,000 people have been testing positive for four weeks or more. In Italy, the first European country ravaged by the pandemic, health officials noticed that coronavirus patients could test positive for the virus for about a month.
“We did not see anything like this during SARS,” said Yuan Yufeng, a vice president at Zhongnan Hospital in Wuhan, referring to the 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome outbreak that infected 8,098 people globally, mostly in China.
Meanwhile, Wang Guiqiang, director of the infectious disease department of Peking University First Hospital, said at a briefing on Tuesday that the majority of such patients were not showing symptoms and very few had seen their conditions worsen.
“The new coronavirus is a new type of virus,” said Guo Yanhong, a National Health Commission official. “For this disease, the unknowns are still greater than the knowns.”
Experts and doctors struggle to explain why the virus behaves so differently in these people.
Some suggest that patients retesting as positive after previously testing negative were somehow reinfected with the virus. This would undermine hopes that people catching Covid-19 would produce antibodies that would prevent them from getting sick again from the virus.
Other South Korean and Chinese experts have said that remnants of the virus could have stayed in patients’ systems but not be infectious or dangerous to the host or others.
Meanwhile, the number of Covid-19 patients jumped by 2,573,605 in the world so far , pushing the death tally to 178,562 on Wednesday(22), according to worldometer.
(Source :-with inputs from foreign agencies)
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