World Health Organization Investigating Reports That Coronavirus Can ‘Reactivate’ In Some Patients

People wearing masks to protect against the coronavirus.
Kevin Frayer / Getty Images

The World Health Organization said it is investigating reports that the coronavirus has been “reactivated” in some patients after doctors believe the virus had run its course in them.

As Reuters reported, the organization announced on Saturday that it was looking into the reports that some patients with COVID-19 were cleared before testing positive again. The 91 cases of what they believe could be “reactivation” were reported in South Korea, and the director of that country’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said medical officials believed it was not a case of reinfection.

The WHO responded to these reports, releasing a statement on Saturday saying it would work closely with doctors in South Korea to monitor the cases and make sure that it is not a testing error.

“We are aware of these reports of individuals who have tested negative for COVID-19 using PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing and then after some days testing positive again,” the agency said in a statement.

“We are closely liaising with our clinical experts and working hard to get more information on those individual cases. It is important to make sure that when samples are collected for testing on suspected patients, procedures are followed properly.”

The WHO added that because COVID-19 is a new disease, there is a need for further testing to determine the course of the virus and its “shedding profile.” South Korea has been at the forefront of testing for the virus, conducting widespread tests that have helped allow the country to avoid some of the more stringent lockdown measures put in place in countries hit hard by infections.

As Reuters noted, WHO guidelines on the treatment of coronavirus stipulate that a patient who had been hospitalized can only be released after two consecutive negative tests taken at least 24 hours apart. Across the globe, there have been more than 1.7 million reported cases of coronavirus, with close to 400,000 being listed as officially recovered. Some experts believe that the spread of the coronavirus may be nearing its peak, and some countries hit hard by its early spread have already seen a dropoff in reported cases and deaths.

As The Inquisitr reported, the initial reports of what appeared to be reactivation of the virus led to questions of whether people who had been infected were immune to reinfection afterward. The report added that there have been some other cases of people being released from the hospital after doctors believed they were no longer infected, only to fall ill again.