A lingering question for many: “Can you get coronavirus twice?” While much is still to be learned about the novel coronavirus pandemic, South Korea is reporting the answer to this question is yes. The South Korean government reported more than 100 people have tested positive for coronavirus a second time.
More accurately, at least 116 people have tested positive twice. Al Jazeera reports that Jeong Eun-kyeong, director of the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said the virus may have been reactivated, resulting in the patients being reinfected. And in China, NPR reports about 5-10% of patients who recovered tested positive again in Wuhan.
Al Jazeera‘s Rob McBride reported from Seoul, South Korea, “Does that mean that there had been a problem in testing? Does it mean that there are many more questions about this virus that the experts simply don’t know? Could it be mutating in some form?” These are just some of the many questions sparked from the slew of new cases.
Archie Clements, professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the Curtin University in Perth, Australia, told Al Jazeera the growing number of those testing positive again could be because “no diagnostic test is perfect for any disease.”
“I think what is very, very unlikely is that these people are being reinfected by other people,” Clements told Al Jazeera. “There’s plenty of evidence to suggest that there is quite a strong immune response to infection with coronavirus, and that should protect people from infection for a period of time. What’s not currently known is for how long.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) released a statement to The Hill suggesting the cases may be a testing mishap. “It is important to make sure that when samples are collected for testing on suspected patients, procedures are followed properly.”
Currently, the WHO’s guidelines state that coronavirus patients can be discharged from the hospital if they test negative twice, with tests being done at least 24 hours apart.
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