Discharged COVID-19 Patients Testing Positive Again for SARS-CoV-2 RNA: A Minireview of Published Studies from China

J Med Virol. 2020 Jul 1;10.1002/jmv.26250. doi: 10.1002/jmv.26250. Online ahead of print.

Abstract

In the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, one potential cause of concern is that some discharged COVID-19 patients are testing positive again for SARS-CoV-2 RNA. To better understand what is happening and to provide public health policy planners and clinicians timely information, we have searched and reviewed published studies about discharged patients testing positive again for the SARS-CoV-2 RNA. Our search found 12 reports, all of which described patients in China. Our review of these reports indicates the presence of discharged patients who remain asymptomatic but test positive. However, it is unclear whether they are contagious because a positive RT-PCR test does not necessarily indicate the presence of replicating and transmissible virus. Our review suggests the need for timely, parallel testing of different samples, including for example, fecal specimens, from COVID-19 patients before and after they are discharged from hospitals. This article is protected by copyright. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Coronavirus; Infection; Pathogenesis; Reactivation; Respiratory tract; Shedding; Virus classification.

Publication types

  • Review