EXETER, England — People who contract COVID-19 could still be contagious for more than two months, according to new research. Of course, staying contagious for that long is much less likely, but scientists are hoping to expand the study to get a better idea of how many people could be carriers for a long time.
Researchers at the University of Exeter in England report that 13% of patients are still infectious and have clinically relevant levels of the virus after 10 days of quarantine. In the most extreme cases, individuals still carried the virus for 68 days. There is nothing “clinically remarkable” about people who remain with high levels of the virus, according to the study, which means it could happen to anyone.
For the study, the researchers re-tested 176 people who had tested positive on standard PCRs to determine if the virus was still active. The results suggest the new test should be applied in environments where people are vulnerable to stop the spread of COVID-19.
“Although this is a relatively small study, our results suggest that the potentially active virus can sometimes persist beyond a period of 10 days and could pose a potential risk for further transmission,” explains the co -Study author Lorna Harries, professor at the University of Exeter Medical School, in a statement. “Furthermore, there was nothing clinically noteworthy about these people, which means we wouldn’t be able to predict who they are.”
Harries and her team warn that people should always be careful with those who have been recently infected. This is especially the case after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reduced the recommended isolation time to five days for infected patients.
“In some settings, such as people returning to nursing homes after illness, people who remain contagious after ten days could pose a serious risk to public health,” says lead author Dr Merlin Davies. “We may need to make sure people in these settings have an active negative virus test to ensure that people are no longer contagious. We now want to conduct larger trials to explore this issue further. »
It was not mentioned in the press release whether the team is continuing with a larger study.
The research is published in the Journal of Infectious Diseases.
South West News Service writer Joe Morgan contributed to this report.