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Recovered COVID-19 Patients Testing Positive Again

April 10, Friday— South Korea officials reported 91 coronavirus patients, though cleared of the new coronavirus had tested positive again.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has begun investigating alarming reports from South Korea where some COVID-19 patients tested positive again after initially testing negative for the disease while being considered for discharge.

 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.

“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.”

According to WHO recommendations on Clinical Management, COVID-19 patients are considered clinically recovered after they’ve been tested negative for the virus 2 days in a row using standard polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing— a.k.a a throat or nasal swab.

“We are aware of these reports of individuals who have tested negative for COVID-19 using PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing and then after some days testing positive again,” a WHO spokesperson told Reuters.

If epidemiologists were to discover that COVID-19 continues to remain contagious beyond that period somehow, it could affect quarantine timelines and other health measures recommended by public health authorities. Currently, the cause behind this trend of “reactivated” cases remains unknown, WHO told Reuters.

“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,” it said.

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

“As COVID-19 is a new disease, we need more epidemiological data to draw any conclusions of virus shedding profile,” the WHO said.