COVID-19: 10-day quarantine not enough for everyone, study suggests

A new study suggests that 10 days of quarantine may not be enough, finding one in 10 people may remain contagious even after this point.

According to a small study from the United Kingdom, published in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases in December that examined 176 patients who previously tested positive for COVID-19 with PCR, a new type of test found that some patients were infectious for longer than the standard 10-day quarantine period. .

“Although this is a relatively small study, our results suggest that potentially active virus can sometimes persist for longer than 10 days, and could pose a potential transmission risk,” said Lorna Harris, a professor at the University of Michigan Medical School. Exeter, which oversaw the study, said in a press release. “Furthermore, there was nothing clinically noticeable about these people, which means we wouldn’t be able to predict who they were.”

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests are the gold standard for determining whether a person has COVID-19, and work by looking for viral fragments. But they don’t tell us whether or not a person is currently contagious, according to the study, as these parts can still be in the system after the virus has been removed.

Another way to test is to look for sub-genomic RNA, the researchers said, which is produced when the virus is actively replicating itself.

The researchers looked at RNA from samples collected from 176 individuals who tested positive for COVID-19 between March 17, 2020 and November 29, 2020. The disease and 33 were classified as severely ill.

They found that 13 percent of sgRNA-positive cases still showed clinically relevant levels of the virus 10 days later.

For the 17 people in the study, later samples were available. Five of these individuals showed sgRNA positivity for up to 68 days.

The researchers believe this type of testing could be implemented in high-risk scenarios, such as testing health care workers or those working in long-term care.

“In some settings, such as when people return to care homes after illness, continued transmission after ten days can pose a serious public health risk,” Merlin Davies, the study’s lead author, said in the statement. “We may need to make sure that people in those places have a negative active virus test to make sure that people are no longer contagious. We now want to do larger trials to further investigate this.”

Some previous studies indicated that the presence of sgRNA did not mean that the virus was definitely active, and the researchers acknowledged that the problem needed further research.

But this suggests that the ten-day rule may not be absolute in every case.

In its conclusion, the study stated that, “Given the clear potential for forward transmission that these cases may have, more targeted studies should now be conducted to detect and screen secondary cases with 10-day transmission in these populations.”


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