A patient discharged from Vientiane’s Mittaphab Hospital several weeks ago, after recovering from a Covid-19 infection, has re-tested positive and has returned to the hospital for further observation.
In a press briefing earlier today, the National Taskforce for Covid-19 Prevention and Control stated that after having undergone 14 days of post-recovery self-isolation, a follow-up test revealed that Case 14 remained positive.
Evidence from neighboring countries
Dr. Lattanaxay Phetsouvanh, Director-General of the Department of Communicable Disease Control of the Ministry of Health, provides an explanation.
“We have learned of this happening in other countries,” said Dr. Lattanaxay.
“In South Korea, there have been 292 cases of fully recovered COVID-19 patients testing positive after they had twice tested negative. In China, five to 14 percent of cases have been known to fall into this type of category. In Vietnam, five cases have been reported. In Brunei, there’s also been such a case. In all these cases, the recovered patients have tested positive for the virus but do not show any symptoms,” he said.
“As do many health experts around the world, we employ the RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) method of testing for the virus, which is very fast and accurate. However, it cannot distinguish between active and dead parts of the virus. Experts believe that positive results from tests on recovered patients are detecting the non-infectious remains, or dormant fragments, of viral particles.”
Dr. Lattanaxay also said that these dead virus particles could take several days, or even months, to be totally discharged from the body. He also went on to say that this phenomenon was not unique to Covid-19.
Below is the full briefing.