Chinese Coronavirus Expert Says Some “Recovered” Patients Might Still Be Infectious

Zhao Jianping, a major Chinese respiratory disease expert said that some of the discharged coronavirus patients might be still carrying the virus and they could be infectious, potentially posing another complication to Beijing’s efforts to control the epidemic.

Jianping, the head of the coronavirus containment team in worst-affected Hubei province, said that although some of patients discharged from hospital after tests showed they were negative for the virus, they were tested positive again, later. China is counting patients whose throat or nose swabs were tested positive for the virus in a nucleic acid test, and those whose computed tomography (CT) scans showed lesions in their lungs, as infected cases.

The criteria for deciding if a patient has fully recovered varies between provinces. However, in general Chinese hospitals require people to test negative twice in a row, and to show no obvious symptoms such as fever. The released patients are supposed to check in with their hospital and can face retesting. This is where many patients turn out to be tested positive again.

Zhao told Beijing News:

“That means during the period when a patient deemed recovered leaves the hospital and goes back home, they could infect the people they are in touch with. As this kind of situation exists, we encourage recovered patients to also be put on quarantine for 14 days.”

Evaluating the “highly dangerous” situation in an interview with Southern People Weekly, Zhao questioned, “Where could you put such patients? They could infect others being at home, but they would also occupy the stretched resources at hospitals if they are there.”

With 889 new cases and 118 further deaths, so far China has the total 75,465 confirmed cases whereas the national health commission confirms that so far 2,236 people have died from the illness. Around a quarter of the newly confirmed cases (227 in number) came from two prisons in Shandong and Zhejiang province. Beijing News reported that the head official for Shandong’s department of justice was sacked over the infections.

Restricted from leaving their homes, millions of people remain on lockdown in China. Many companies are asking employees to work to prevent contagion. As workers start returning to offices and factories in greater numbers in coming days, there is a possibility about the risk of an increase in new cases.