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Are patients who recover from coronavirus still infectious?

After recovering from the coronavirus, patients are unlikely to spread the disease to new, uninfected hosts, according to a study from South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

A sample of 285 COVID-19 survivors showed that despite bouncing from a negative to positive coronavirus test after their initial recovery, they were not shedding infectious viral particles. What they actually were shedding were effectively dead virus particles lingering in their system. 

This has resulted directly in the changing of status for recovered South Korean patients, where they had previously still been considered infectious. So, while someone who has recovered from coronavirus may test positive, it is not indicative of their potential to pass the virus on to others. 

ABC News’ chief medical correspondent Jen Ashton said this new information may be used to update U.S. protocols regarding when people can return to work.

“It may be that this information can be used to help determine whether people who have been positive can go back to work or school,” Asher told ABC 11. “Right now, we’re not using testing to help guide that, but we’ll see if that evolves in the future. That’s all to be determined.”

STAT News reports that Michael Osterholm, the director of the University of Minnesota’s Center for Infectious Diseases Research and Policy, said this study also sets a precedent for expert and public understanding of viral shedding.

Sources: Bloomberg, ABC 11, STAT News


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