A group of researchers has claimed that half of the patients they treated with mild infection of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) had the virus in their bodies for eight days — even after the symptoms of the disease disappeared. This study published in The American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care shows why it has been difficult to stop the spread of the disease.
The study assessed 16 patients who underwent treatment at the health centre of the PLA General Hospital in Beijing from 28 January to 9 February. They were discharged during this period.
Indian-origin scientist Lokesh Sharma from Yale University in the US was among the group of researchers who deduced the result. Samples of patients taken on alternate days were analysed in the study. The researchers said that the patients were discharged after recovering after they had tested negative.
Sharma, a co-author of the study, said, “The most significant finding from our study is that half of the patients kept shedding the virus even after resolution of their symptoms. More severe infections may have even longer shedding times.”
The primary symptoms in the patients who were subjects of the study were fever, cough, pain in the pharynx, and difficult or laboured breathing (dyspnoea).
“If you had mild respiratory symptoms from coronavirus and were staying at home so as not to infect people, extend your quarantine for another two weeks after recovery to ensure that you don’t infect other people,” suggested study co-author Lixin Xie from the Chinese PLA General Hospital in Beijing.
“Coronavirus patients can be infectious even after their symptomatic recovery, so treat the asymptomatic/recently recovered patients as carefully as symptomatic patients,” the scientists said.
Due to the global coronavirus pandemic, people from all over the world are trying to rush to ‘safer’ places. Around six lakh people are infected with this virus across the world while more than 27,000 people have died [for the up to the minute accuracy of the toll, refer to the coronavirus tracker on top of this page].
The number of patients infected with this virus has been the highest in the world. In the US, 345 people died in a single day and 18,000 new cases were reported. Pakistan has reported more than 1,300 cases of COVID-19, of whom 11 are now dead.