Covid-19: Recovered patients still test positive in the long term

PUTRAJAYA (June 13): The Ministry of Health (MOH) has found that most patients who have recovered from Covid-19 infection still showed positive results for the virus through long-term rt-PCR test.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that the rt-PCR test was very sensitive in detecting the presence of the virus’ protein.

“Although they are still detected to be positive, they do not have symptoms, do not fall sick or spread the disease to their immediate families. Repeated culture studies showed that the Covid-19 virus failed to breed.

“Thus, the MOH has concluded that the positive results of Covid-19 in patients who have fully recovered were caused by dead viruses or virus fragments (deoxyribonucleic acid or DNA),” he said at the daily press conference on Covid-19 yesterday.

He said similar findings had been reported in several other countries, including in South Korea, China, Singapore and Germany.

A study in China, he said, showed that infectivity occurred 2.3 days before the start of symptoms and reached its highest rate 0.7 day before the patient was symptomatic and the infectivity rate dropped to a very low level after seven days.

In Taiwan, it was discovered that five days after being infected, the patients did not transmit the disease to their closest contacts, he said.

“Our observation is in line with the findings that the infectious period begins two to three days before the symptoms begin, and the peak is one day before the symptoms. 

“It is found that the infection period also drops to a very low level within the next seven days,” he said, adding that the MOH had updated its guidelines for the discharging of symptomatic and asymptomatic Covid-19 patients. 

For symptomatic patients to be discharged, they need to have recovered from fever at least three days or 72 hours without medication.

As for those with respiratory symptoms, namely cough and shortness of breath, they need to have improved at least 14 days from the onset of the symptoms.

“For asymptomatic patients, they will be discharged 14 days after the Covid-19 diagnostic test was found to be positive, assuming have no symptoms after that positive test. 

“The Covid-19 detection test is not required before the patient is discharged from the infectious disease ward. If the patients still need other medical treatment apart from the Covid-19 treatment, they can be transferred to other wards,” he said at the daily press conference yesterday.

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