FAQs for post-COVID recovery and awareness

Huang Yixuan
Dr Hu Bijie, director of the department of infectious diseases at Zhongshan Hospital answers some frequently asked questions regarding COVID-19 recovery and awareness.
Huang Yixuan

Will those having recovered from COVID-19 be infected again or pass the virus on to others? Do they still need to wear masks? Dr Hu Bijie, director of the department of infectious diseases at Zhongshan Hospital, answered such concerns in a media interview on Thursday.

Will people who have recovered from COVID-19 pass the virus on to others?

Most of those who have recovered from COVID-19 will not pass the virus on, but certain protective measures such as face masks are still highly recommended, especially in crowded spaces.

It has to be noted that previously, medical facilities used nucleic acid tests to determine if a recovering person was still infectious, while now more people are using antigen tests instead.

A negative antigen test result can only prove that the highly contagious stage is over, but some low-level contagiousness may still exist. Therefore, it is suggested that recovering patients should still wear a mask when going out, and N95 masks are recommended when going to crowded places, to prevent cross-infection.

Will those having recovered be re-infected?

There are more than 130 Omicron coronavirus variants. If a patient had one of them, they will have a certain immunity for that variant and can also be considered as having a certain resistance to other variants that are not very different from it. But the resistance to a variant more different from the previous one will be weaker.

Generally, the possibility of re-infection exists for those having recovered, as resistance decreases over time. But even if they get infected again, the disease can be less severe.

How long can it take for people to fully recover from COVID-19?

It depends. Some people still have low fevers a week or even 10 days after infection. COVID is different from acute respiratory infections, such as cold or flu, which usually take about one week to fully recover.

COVID is more persistent and takes longer time for immunity recovery. It varies among individuals. Some people can recover in one week, but for middle-aged and senior people with poor physical fitness, it will need a longer time, such as two to three weeks.

If I keep coughing after my test result turned negative, should I go to hospital and have a CT scan?

Some people cough because their bronchial mucosa has some bleeding and edema, and is sensitive to external stimulation, such as cold wind. Some may have inflammation expand to their lung, for which the severity can be assessed via CT scan. So people who have suffered from cough for a long time with large amount of sputum are recommended to take a CT scan.

How to protect vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, diabetics and cancer patients under radiotherapy.?

Special care should be taken for vulnerable populations, such as people over 80 years old, especially those with limited mobility and disability, and those suffering from respiratory, cardiovascular, tumor, diabetic and other diseases.

For vulnerable people who have been infected, families should pay attention to when exactly to go to the hospital, as hospitals are seeing a rush of visits currently.

Family members must pay as much attention to monitoring the oxygen saturation status of the patients as they do to taking their temperature and blood pressure.

Patients should be immediately taken to hospital if the oxygen saturation is below 95 percent and still falling.

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