Dead virus can still be picked up by RT PCR test and the report may still come positive when person has become free from Covid: Dr Nisar ul Hassan
Srinagar 04 June : The Doctors Association Kashmir (DAK) on Friday said that recovered Covid-19 patients testing positive or showing traces of virus after conducting RT-PCR does not mean others could get infected from them.
Dr Nisar ul Hassan, influenza expert, said that RT-PCR test can detect the virus weeks after Covid patients have recovered from the illness. “It does not mean that a person is infectious and able to transmit the virus to another person,” he said.
Dr Hassan said in most Covid-19 positive cases, the virus dies after the 7th or the 8th day of the illness. At that time the virus cannot be transmitted to another person.
He further said that the dead virus can still be picked up by RT PCR test and the report may still come positive, even when a person has become free from Covid.
“RT-PCR test which is used to detect Covid-19 cannot distinguish whether the virus in the patient is dead or alive,” Dr Hassan said.
He said virus culture can tell us whether the positive test has picked up active virus which can reproduce and spread or just dead virus which won’t transmit to others.
Quoting a Korean study, the DAK President said people who had recovered from Covid and tested positive again were not found to be contagious. That means they didn’t transmit the virus to others, based on virus culture that failed to find live viruses in recovered patients.
“Testing positive after recovery has caused a lot of unnecessary stress and panic among recovered Covid-19 persons,” he said.
Dr Nisar said in order to avoid unnecessary prolonged isolation and unnecessary use of laboratory testing resources, retesting is not recommended now. There is a shift from test-based strategy to time-based and symptom-based strategy to end the isolation of Covid patients.
“Under the new guidelines, Covid patients have to remain in isolation for 10 days after the symptom onset plus at least 3 additional days without symptoms,” he said.
“The initial recommendation to confirm clearance of the virus and thus allow discharge from isolation, required a patient to be clinically recovered and to have two negative RT-PCR test results on sequential samples taken at least 24 hours apart,” he added.