Posted on Apr 10, 2020, 1 p.m.
According to the Korean CDC, COVID-19 may be reactivating in those who have recovered from the illness as 51 patients that were classed as being cured in South Korea are reported to have tested to be positive once more.
Jeong Eun-kyeong, the director general of the Korean CDC said that rather than being reinfected it is possible that the virus may have been reactivated again in these people, given that they tested positive again so shortly after being released from quarantine.
“While we are putting more weight on reactivation as the possible cause, we are conducting a comprehensive study on this,” Jeong said. “There have been many cases when a patient during treatment will test negative one day and positive another.”
Currently in South Korea a patient may be deemed fully recovered after having negative results from two tests conducted within a 24 hour interval. The Korean CDC is conducting an epidemiological probe into the cases.
South Korea was among the countries to be earliest hit with a large scale outbreak, but has reported just 200 deaths and cases are beginning to fall since hitting what was believed to be the peak near the end of February 2020.
Korea has one of the world’s most expansive widespread testing programs and a technology driven approach to tracing infections that has helped the country to deal with the epidemic without having to lock down or shutdown businesses.
Korea is not the only country fearing re-infections in recovered patients as in China where the virus first emerged there are reports of recovered patients that have been released from the hospital testing positive again and some of them losing their struggle with the disease this time around.
Unfortunately there is very little understanding of why this may be happening, although there are some that believe that the problem may lie in faulty testing or inconsistencies in the test results. As epidemiologists around the globe race to find out more about COVID-19 now their work has another weed to deal with.
The rapid global spread has seen the focus shift to those who have contracted the virus but displaying few or atypical symptoms, and Korea is at the front lines and forefront of tracking these cases which is causing concern for China where they are reporting signs of the outbreak starting to come under control. If the virus is being reactivated in those who were deemed cured, this is not good news for anyone; but it is more likely that the virus hadn’t been fully cleared from the patient’s systems according to the Korean CDC.
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