As India fights hard to flatten the Chinese Coronavirus curve, the erratic behaviour of the Sars-CoV 2 virus continues to worry health officials. In one such case, a 62-year-old woman in Pathanamthitta, in central Kerala was tested positive for coronavirus 19 successive times. Despite all the symptoms disappearing, the woman tested positive for 40 days consecutively after she was admitted in the District General Hospital on March 10.
As per a report in Hindustan Times, she was a primary contact of a three-member family who had returned from Italy and tested positive on March 8.
While others who got the infection from the same family recovered and were discharged after two consecutive tests turned negative in two weeks, the woman continued to be under treatment at the hospital. Her test results continued to show positive for coronavirus.
“The 62-year-old woman, who contracted the diseases after she came in contact with the Italy-returned family, tested positive even after 19 tests. She is not showing many symptoms also. We tried combination drugs several times,” said Pathanamthitta district medical officer Dr N Sheeja. She said she has sought the advice of the state medical board in this regard.
Finally, 46 days after being admitted, the woman was finally discharged on April 24.
Similar case in Kerela where a man remains positive for 43 days
The Pathanamthitta district in Kerala witnessed another similar case wherein a 53-year-old man, who had returned from England in the United Kingdom, tested positive on March 25 and has been undergoing treatment since then. As per a report in The News Minute, it has been 43 days and the man’s samples are still positive for the virus.
According to Dr Nandini CS, the District Surveillance Officer of Pathanamthitta, his RT-PCR or reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test results have been showing positive, but the man is asymptomatic currently.
As per the discharge criteria, two consecutive samples should test negative before a person can be discharged.
Meanwhile, the Pathanamthitta district officials are waiting for three more test results of the 53-year-old man. “If he is still showing positive, we will convene a medical board meeting to decide the next course of action,” said Dr Nandini.
Why are some coronavirus patients’ samples returning positive even after their symptoms have subsided?
When the coronavirus infects an individual, it invades the host’s cells and begins to incorporate its genetic material into the cells. The genetic material found in this particular virus is RNA (ribonucleic acid), which is similar to DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid). When the host cell undergoes division, the viral genes are replicated too, thereby keeping the virus’ RNA active and circulating. Although a patient may not show any symptoms, there is a possibility that the fragments of coronavirus RNA remain in the body.
The World Health Organization (WHO) had prescribed a 14-day incubation period for coronavirus but Kerala had extended it to 28 days to ensure that an asymptomatic person or a patient is disinfected completely.