Health officials have announced that nine patients who had recovered from Covid-19 will return to hospital for further testing in a bid to reassure the public.
The retests will be conducted to assuage fears by the public about the potential for reinfection by recovered Covid-19 patients.
A patient discharged from Vientiane’s Mittaphab Hospital several weeks ago re-tested positive and returned to the hospital for further observation last Saturday.
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.
Director of Mittaphab Hospital, Dr. Sanong Thongsana, said in a recent news briefing that the hospital was urging virus patients to return to the hospital for a retest as a precautionary measure.
Dr. Lattanaxay Phetsouvanh, Director-General of the Department of Communicable Disease Control of the Ministry of Health, provided an explanation for the phenomenon last week.
“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.
“Like 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,” he said.
These dead virus particles could take several days, or even months, to be totally discharged from the body, according to the latest scientific evidence.
Covid-19 patients who have recently recovered have been advised to rest and stay hydrated and to take over-the-counter medication to manage symptoms.