Turns out, people who have recovered from covid-19 could be still asymptomatic carriers

You might beat covid-19 to be healthy again, but you could still be a carrier for the virus according to this study.
WHO and covid-19
The war is not over till its actually over! Image Courtesy: Shutterstock
PTI Published: 29 Oct 2020, 06:53 pm IST
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Even if you have recovered from covid-19, the SARS-CoV-2 could very well stay with you. We aren’t saying it—but a study from Italy sure as hell is.

According to the study, which assessed 131 covid-19 patients who met the World Health Organization (WHO) criteria for discontinuation of quarantine, and found that close to 17% of them, who were considered fully recovered, tested positive for the virus in follow-up screening.

“Our findings indicate that a noteworthy rate of recovered patients with covid-19 could still be asymptomatic carriers of the virus,” said study co-author Francesco Landi from Fondazione Policlinico Universitario in Italy.

If your covid-19 symptoms are persisting, you might test positive 

In the study, the researchers followed covid-19 patients after their recovery to assess the impact of the virus on their bodies. It found that patients who continued to have respiratory symptoms, especially sore throat and rhinitis, were more likely to have a new positive test result.

The researchers said the persistence of these two symptoms should not be underestimated and must be adequately assessed in all patients considered recovered from covid-19.

“Clinicians and researchers have focused on the acute phase of covid-19, but continued monitoring after discharge for long-lasting effects is needed,” Landi explained.

The scientists also collected demographic, medical, and clinical information from the patients with an emphasis on the persistence of symptoms and signs related to covid-19 such as cough, fatigue, diarrhoea, headache, smelling disorders, loss of appetite, sore throat, and rhinitis.

WHO and covid-19
While changing stances might seem confusing, continue to maintain social distancing and sanitisation! Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

Their analysis found that 16.7% of the patients tested positive again. The study did not find any significant difference between patients with positive and negative test results in terms of age or sex.

It noted that none of the patients had fever and all reported improvement in their overall clinical condition. They also said some symptoms such as fatigue (51%), laboured breathing (44%) and coughing (17%) were still present in a significant percentage of the patients studied.

Also, read: People with severe covid-19 can remain infectious for up to 20 days: Study

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Do persisting symptoms mean the person is contagious? 

“The main question for the containment of SARS-CoV-2 pandemic infection that still needs to be answered is whether the persistent presence of virus fragments means the patients are still contagious,” Landi said.

The scientists explained that the RT-PCR test looks for small fragments of viral genetic material, it’s RNA, and a positive swab test can reveal if patients are still shedding viral fragments.“But it is not able to discern whether they are or aren’t infectious,” Landi added.

For patients who continue to have symptoms potentially related to covid-19, the researchers said it is reasonable to be cautious and avoid close contact with others, wear a face mask, and possibly undergo an additional nasopharyngeal swab.

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