A study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine revealed that close to 17% of patients who were considered fully recovered from COVID-19 tested positive for the virus on follow-up screening. The study was conducted by the Fondazione Policlinico Universitario “Agostino Gemelli” IRCCS, Rome, Italy.
A multidisciplinary healthcare service was established for all patients who had recovered from COVID-19 to assess the impact of the virus on their bodies. The study included 131 patients who met the WHO criteria for discontinuation of quarantine at least 2-weeks before the follow-up visit. Patients who had symptoms like sore throat, rhinitis were more likely to re-test positive for the virus. The persistence of these two symptoms in the recovered patients should not be underestimated. At the time of follow-up, a new RT-PCR test was done and around 17% of them were positive. None of the patients had a fever and all had clinical improvement. Some symptoms like coughing were present in 17% of the patients, fatigue was present in 51%, and labored breathing was present in 44% of the patients.
The RT-PCR looks for viral fragments and a positive swab test could indicate shedding of viral fragments. It is however unknown that at this stage if the person is still contagious. The researchers recommend avoiding close contact, taking all precautions like wearing a mask and if possible, to undergo a nasopharyngeal swab test in patients who continue to have symptoms post-discharge or quarantine.
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