No risk of COVID-19 infections from recovered patients
Recovered COVID-19 patients cannot infect others even if they test positive again, Shanghai's leading coronavirus expert said on Monday.
From here on in, there will be tens of thousands of recovered COVID-19 patients discharged from designated and makeshift hospitals returning to their communities and families.
According to studies both home and abroad, a certain percentage of recovered infections will test positive again.
However, no further infections or virus transmission has been reported from these "re-infected" cases, said Hu Bijie, director of the infectious diseases department at Zhongshan Hospital and a member of Shanghai's COVID-19 treatment experts team.
Research has found previously infected people tested positive again because of the remnants of COVID-19 nucleic acid, which were dead and not infectious, Hu said.
A consensus has been reached among domestic and foreign researchers that people who positive a second time after full recoveries are not infectious, he noted.
This reality is why China's updated COVID-19 diagnosis and treatment protocol has relaxed hospital discharges and shortened home quarantines for recovered patients, Hu said.
The new directive describes negative as CT, or cycle threshold, values above 35, as opposed to 40 in the previous protocol.
After being discharged from hospitals, people undergo a seven-day home quarantine, rather than two weeks of quarantine and medical observation as previously stipulated.
"It will help recovered patients restore their normal lives and go back to work as soon as possible," Hu said.
However, during the weeklong home quarantine, they must strictly follow rules such as wearing masks, living in separate and well-ventilated rooms if conditions allow, avoiding dining and having close contact with family members, washing hands and staying home, he said.
Hospitals and quarantine sites fully disinfect the luggage, clothes and personal belongings of patients before discharging them. All their daily garbage is treated in the same way medical waste is.
More than 3,000 people were discharged from local designated and makeshift hospitals on Sunday, and more will be discharged on Monday, said Wu Jinglei, director of the Shanghai Health Commission.
Local districts are responsible for closed-loop transportation for discharged patients, said Jiang Rui, head of the Shanghai Civil Affairs Bureau.
Neighborhood and village committees, as well as property management companies, are responsible for explaining to residents in communities that it is safe for those who have recovered to return to their homes, she noted.
Districts, subdistricts and town governments are required to care for discharged patients during the weeklong home quarantine, especially the elderly, disabled and other groups with difficulties.
Discharged patients with no place to live, such as migrant workers and people who stay at local markets, will temporarily reside in their workplaces or other accommodations. Their employers should provide meals, life necessities and other logistical services, Jiang said.
More than 11,000 people with mild symptoms or asymptomatic cases have been discharged after making full recoveries since the resurgence took hold in March, according to the commission.