Coronavirus 'may still be contagious eight days after symptoms disappear'

People might still be able to pass on coronavirus eight days after their symptoms disappear, a new study suggests.

Researchers carried out tests on 16 patients in China who had been treated for Covid-19 in PLA General Hospital in Beijing between January 28 and February 9.

All patients had throat swabs collected on alternative days and analysed.

On average (mean), they had symptoms (such as fever and cough) for eight days after taking five days for the virus to incubate.

The study said that half (8 out of 16) of the patients remained viral positive even after the resolution of symptoms.

The median amount of time was 2.5 days, but it ranged from one to eight days.

Study authors wrote: ‘Cases have been reported where a patient could infect their close contacts even after ‘apparent recovery’ from the infection.

‘This warrants us to investigate the ‘shedding window’ after the clinical recovery of the patient.

In this study, we report that half of the patients continued to be viral positive even after the resolution of symptoms up to eight days.

‘Our study provides initial insights into the viral clearance kinetics and the ability of the virus to persist even after the resolution of the for as long as eight days, which may pose a significant challenge in controlling the spread of the disease,’ the study said.

But they said further studies were needed to find out if the virus was capable of being transmitted at the later stage of the disease.

They said their study subjects were mostly young and male, and the figures could differ for older patients or those with immune deficiencies.

The team, from Yale University School of Medicine, published the study in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

It could suggest that people should self-isolate for longer than the recommened 14 days to ensure they do not infect others.

Corresponding author Lixin Xie said: ‘If you had mild respiratory symptoms from Covid-19 and were staying at home so as not to infect people, extend your quarantine for another two weeks after recovery to ensure that you don’t infect other people.’

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