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Study Shows COVID-19 Patients No Longer Infectious After 11 Days

It also means you may be discharged 11 days after getting the disease.
by Patricia Baes
May 25, 2020
Photo/s: Engin Akyurt/Unsplash

If you're a COVID patient, you may no longer have to stay in isolation for that long. 

More than 80% of COVID-19 patients no longer pose the risk of spreading the disease after 11 days of getting sick, even as some may test positive, says a new study by infectious disease experts in Singapore. This means they may be safely discharged after that period.

Released on May 23 by Singapore’s National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) and the Academy of Medicine, Singapore, the position statement says that testing positive “does not equate to infectiousness or viable virus.” Furthermore, it states that the virus “could not be isolated or cultured after day 11 of illness.”

“Based on the accumulated data since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the infectious period of SARS-CoV-2 in symptomatic individuals may begin around 2 days before the onset of symptoms, and persists for about seven to 10 days after the onset of symptoms,” the researchers write. “Active viral replication drops quickly after the first week, and viable virus was not found after the second week of illness despite the persistence of PCR detection of RNA.”

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These observations could reduce the time patients spend in hospitals and care facilities, and the resources needed to look after them.

“Scientifically, I'm very confident that there is enough evidence that the person is no longer infectious after 11 days,” says NCID executive director Leo Yee Sin in a Straits Times report.

Infectious diseases expert Dr Asok Kurup also says, "Studies are still going on and we will get more data, but we will see the same thing as there is a great deal of science in this. So there is no need to wait."

Singapore’s Ministry of Health says it will “closely study the position statement and evaluate how we can incorporate the latest evidence...into our patient clinical management plan.” If they decide to integrate these findings into their discharge policy, more than 80% of patients may be allowed to return home after 11 days of illness. The rest may still need clinical care, but will no longer require isolation.

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