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What Are The Possible Causes Of A COVID-19 Patient To Relapse After Recovery?

For the past few days, there have been reports coming in from all around the world of recovered COVID-19 patients testing positive for the second time. This is a new concern that has surfaced- relapse of a COVID- 19 patients after recovery. So, what causes a COVID-19 patient to relapse after recovery?

Recently, in South Korea, 51 people who recovered after contracting coronavirus have tested positive again. As per The Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC), individuals from Daegu and the surrounding North Gyeongsang province, the epicentre of coronavirus in South Korea, tested positive for coronavirus after they were released from quarantine. Similar cases were seen in India too.

What Are The Factors That Can Cause Relapse In Patients Recovered From COVID-19?

A coronavirus-infected patient is considered fully recovered after showing negative results for two tests conducted with a 24-hour interval. And those who have been infected with coronavirus develop a protective antibody, but it is still unclear how long the antibodies provide protection against the viral infection.

Health experts are saying that COVID-19 patients who have tested positive again in a short period of time after being released from quarantine had the virus reactivated.

A study conducted by researchers found that half of the COVID-19 patients who were treated for mild coronavirus infection still had the virus for up to eight days after the symptoms disappeared. These patients had at least two consecutive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests which confirmed negative and were discharged after their recovery [1].

During the study, researchers collected samples from throat swabs taken from patients with COVID-19 and analysed it. They found that half of the patients kept shedding the virus even after the symptoms disappeared. The symptoms were fever, cough, pain in the pharynx and difficulty in breathing.

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The researchers further stated that patients with COVID-19 can be infectious even after their symptomatic recovery, so treatment of asymptomatic patients should be the same as symptomatic patients.

Scientists have also stated the fact that some COVID-19 patients are prescribed immunosuppression drugs as a part of their underlying disease, which can further cause them to relapse.

Scientists have warned that if the immune system of the cured COVID-19 patient is weak, there are increased chances of relapse.

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To Conclude...

While the recovery rate of COVID-19 patients looks promising, health experts are still studying the exact behaviour of the virus, the viral mutation and the human immune response towards it.

Story first published: Friday, April 10, 2020, 11:32 [IST]