COVID-19: WHO Investigates Reports of Recovered Patients Testing Positive Again

Medical workers head to a hospital facility to treat coronavirus patients amid the rise in confirmed cases of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Daegu, South Korea, March 14, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon
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The World Health Organization (WHO) said that it was looking into reports of some COVID-19 patients testing positive again after initially testing negative for the disease while being considered for discharge.

South Korean officials on Friday reported 91 patients thought cleared of the new coronavirus had tested positive again. Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, told a briefing that the virus may have been “reactivated” rather than the patients being re-infected.

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The Geneva-based WHO, asked about the report from Seoul, said “We are closely liaising with our clinical experts and working hard to get more information on those individual cases. It is important to make sure that when samples are collected for testing on suspected patients, procedures are followed properly.”

According to the WHO’s guidelines on clinical management, a patient can be discharged from the hospital after two consecutive negative results in a clinically recovered patient at least 24 hours apart.

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Based on current studies, there is a period of about two weeks between the onset of symptoms and clinical recovery of patients with mild COVID-19 disease.

South Korean health officials said on Friday that it remains unclear what is behind the trend, with epidemiological investigations still underway.

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