14 PER CENT of coronavirus patients tested positive a SECOND time in one Chinese region, health official admits

Thursday, February 27, 2020
By Paul Martin

Patients in Guangdong Province were struck again after being given all clear
It comes after a 40-year-old woman in Japan was diagnosed a second time
Experts say the virus may be ‘persistent’ infection that can lie dormant in people

By JAMES MILLS
DAILYMAIL.COM
27 February 2020

Around 14 per cent of coronavirus patients tested positive a second time in one Chinese region despite being given the all clear.

A health official in Guangdong Province told The New York Times the reinfected patients had been discharged from hospital after testing negative for the virus but then fell ill again later.

It follows reports in Japan of a 40-year-old woman who tested positive for a second time yesterday.

Experts said the cases raised fears the virus could be a ‘persistent’ infection, meaning it can lie dormant in patients for years and suddenly flare up again, such as viruses that lead to herpes and chickenpox.

Professor Mark Harris, a virology expert at the University of Leeds, said: ‘Although coronaviruses generally cause short-term, self-limiting infections which are cleared, there is some evidence in the scientific literature for persistent infections of animal coronaviruses, mainly in bats.’

Scientists believe the virus may have originally spread to humans from wild animals, possibly bats, being sold as food in markets in Wuhan, the Chinese city at the epicentre of the outbreak.

Professor Harris added: ‘The reports that patients who tested negative subsequently tested positive again is clearly of concern.

‘It is unlikely that they would have been reinfected having cleared the virus, as they would most likely have mounted an immune response to the virus that would prevent such reinfection.

‘The other possibility therefore is that they did not in fact clear the infection but remained persistently infected.’

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