Can patients recovered from COVID-19 get coronavirus again?
Are Covid-19 patients still infectious after discharge from hospital? Can they be completely coronavirus free? Get all your answers here.
India’s confirmed COVID-19 cases have crossed the 10,000 mark as of April 14, 2020 with active cases standing at 9272 and around 1189 people getting cured of the infection. There are rising concerns over whether the discharged COVID-19 patients are really coronavirus free, or, are they still infectious.
COVID-19 or novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2)is a relatively new virus, hence, the nature of the virus is not fully known. Reports from China and South Korea suggest that many COVID-19 patients who had been discharged from the hospital after full recovery were found to be positive again later.
According to a Reuters report, an increasing number of discharged COVID-19 patients in China and other places tested positive after recovering. However, it is not clear whether the patients had a relapse of the infection or contracted it again.
China, South Korea report cases of reinfection
According to Song Tie, vice director of the centre of disease control in China's Guangdong province, as many as 14 percent of discharged patients in the province have tested positive again and had returned to hospitals for observation. As per data from the National Health Commission, China has so far discharged around 36,117 patients, which represents almost 46 percent of the total cases on mainland China. Hence, if reports of re-infection are indeed true then it could pose a major health risk.
South Korea's Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-Wha also confirmed that she feared a second wave of the virus, despite having the situation under control, as many of the discharged COVID-19 patients were found positive again a few days later.
How can a cured COVID-19 patient test positive?
As per experts, there are several ways in which discharged COVID-19 patients could test positive for the virus yet again.
1. They are either unable to build up enough antibodies to develop immunity against COVID-19 virus and as a result, get infected again.
2. The virus lies dormant in them before creating new symptoms.
Experts also reveal that some of the first cases of reinfection in China were due to testing discrepancies. According to Lei Xuezhong, the deputy director of the centre of the infectious disease at the West China Hospital, most hospitals initially were testing nose and throat samples to decide whether patients should be discharged or not. However, new tests found the virus in the lower respiratory tract.
Are patients who test positive for coronavirus after being cured infectious?
According to an official at China's National Health Commission, the discharged COVID-19 patients who test positive again are not known to be infectious.
Song Tie also stated that none of the patients, who were reportedly reinfected, appear to have infected anyone else. The medical expert explained by saying that when someone has been infected by this kind of virus, he will produce antibodies and after these antibodies are produced, he won't be contagious.
What is the discharge criteria for COVID-19 patients?
In China, the discharge criteria for COVID-19 patients include no fever or symptoms for at least 3 days, improved respiratory symptoms, reduction in inflammation in the respiratory tract and two negative tests of respiratory tract samples with a gap of a minimum 24 hrs between the two tests. Though most countries follow China’s discharge procedure, in India, even if the patient’s sample test negative, the patient is only discharged when there are no clinical symptoms. Indian doctors take a call depending upon the particular case.
What is the recommended procedure for COVID-19 patients after discharge?
The discharged COVID-19 patients have to undergo mandatory isolation for 14 more days and wear a face mask all the time. They are supposed to go back to the hospital for follow-up checkups after two weeks to ensure that they are indeed COVID-19 free.
What is the recovery time for the coronavirus disease?
As per preliminary data, the average time required for clinical recovery of mild COVID-19 cases is approximately 2 weeks and 3-6 weeks for the critical coronavirus cases.