The virus is said to have been able to reactivate itself after treatment.
Health experts were left stunned and confused after more than 90 people who had fully recovered from COVID-19, tested positive again, raising concerns on what this would mean in the world’s efforts to end the dreaded disease.
The Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said on Friday in the country’s capital Seoul, that a total of 91 people had tested positive for the new coronavirus after they were released from quarantine.
KCDC Director-General Jeong Eun-kyeong said a viral test on such cases was under way, with the results expected at least two weeks later, unlike regular swab tests used to test for COVID-19 that shows results in a relatively shorter time. “We are isolating viral cells from respiratory organs of those who have tested positive for COVID-19 again,” Jeong told reporters.
The KCDC said it was also looking into whether those who retested positive had an antibody that would indicate whether they had recovered, as some health experts said immune people with the antibody were not contagious.
Health authorities in Seoul said that the virus was highly likely to have been reactivated, instead of the people being reinfected, as they tested positive again in a relatively short time after being released from quarantine.
Other virologists and epidemiologists also said the positive results from the retesting might have come from the virus reactivating and not from wrong diagnoses.
They also said that the COVID-19 virus could remain latent in certain cells in the body and attack the respiratory organs again once reactivated A COVID-19 patient is deemed fully recovered after showing negative results for two tests in a row, performed within a 24-hour interval.
Meanwhile, global COVID-19 cases stands at 1,617,530, with 96,940 deaths and 365,795 recoveries as at the time of reporting, according to data from worldometer.