Discharged patient tests COVID +ve a second time

Expert allays fears over reinfection; ICMR has laid out guidelines for discharge

The ICMR’s policy on those deemed to have recovered from Covid-19 after a certain number of days and thus can be discharged from hospitals and freed from home quarantine, appears to be causing some confusion, since many patients being discharged are testing positive again.

Many states, including Telangana are following this guideline. At least one case of a person testing positive for Covid-19 after being discharged from a government hospital after completing the mandatory 10 days without symptoms, followed by a week of home quarantine, and an additional 10 days of self-imposed quarantine, has come to light here in the city. This person underwent a second test before reporting back to work and the result came in positive on Friday, sources said.

The patient is not sure what to do next. This person is showing symptoms including mild cold and cough.

As per the last revised guidelines by the Indian Council for Medical Research, people admitted to hospitals with very mild, mild, or pre-symptomatic conditions, can be discharged without any confirmatory tests if they stay symptom free for 10 days including three days without fever. This was the protocol during the initial phases of the Covid-19 disease in the country.

In the case of those with moderate symptoms, discharge was recommended by ICMR without any tests once the patient’s oxygen levels stay above 95 through normal breathing, and there is no fever. Testing before discharge is recommended by ICMR only in case of patients whose disease conditions are considered severe.

According to a senior infectious diseases’ specialist, the case of the individual who tested positive for the second time does not come as a surprise. ICMR was clear in the guidelines because after five to seven days, the chances of a person infected by Coronavirus spreading it to others, is reduced severely. Also, resolution of symptoms means the disease has run its course.

Explaining further, the doctor said the second RT-PCR test on this particular patient, like the first one, would find the RNA of the virus in the body. Presence of the Coronavirus has been recorded in people from four to six weeks and in some cases up to two months after they were treated.

Meanwhile, globally, there is no unanimity in scientific circles on whether a person who has recovered can get re-infected. But the broad accepted scientific opinion currently on Coronavirus is that reinfections are a rare possibility.

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