Unlike the typical seasonal influenza, COVID-19 may be a virus that causes chronic re-infections. Doctors said the virus can go dormant inside the body and re-emerge as a second infection. A Japanese lady was re-infected 25 days after recovery.
A woman working as a tour-bus guide in Japan tested positive for the coronavirus for a second time, Osaka’s prefectural government said on Wednesday, the first person in the country to do so amid growing concerns about the spread of the infection. The woman, a resident of Osaka in western Japan, tested positive on Wednesday after developing a sore throat and chest pains, the prefectural government said in a statement, describing her as being in her forties. She first tested positive in late January and was discharged from the hospital after recovering on Feb. 1, according to the statement. The health ministry confirmed the case was the first in Japan where a patient tested positive for coronavirus for a second time after being discharged from hospital, the Nikkei newspaper said.
Though a first in Japan, cases of second positive tests have been reported in China, where the disease originated late last year. The outbreak has spread rapidly and widely, infecting about 80,000 people globally and killing nearly 2,800, the vast majority in mainland China. “Once you have the infection, it could remain dormant and with minimal symptoms, and then you can get an exacerbation if it finds its way into the lungs,” said Philip Tierno Jr., Professor of Microbiology and Pathology at NYU School of Medicine.
He said much remains unknown about the virus. “I’m not certain that this is not bi-phasic, like anthrax,” he said, meaning the disease appears to go away before recurring. Asked to comment on prospects for the Olympic Games going ahead in Tokyo this summer, Prof. Tierno said, “The Olympics should be postponed if this continues … There are many people who don’t understand how easy it is to spread this infection from one person to another.” Japan has changed its strategy in combating the contagion, seeking to slow its spread and minimize the number of deaths. –Reuters