Coronavirus can live in patients for up to FIVE WEEKS

Coronavirus can live in patients for up to FIVE WEEKS after they first fall ill – more than twice as long as the recommended 14-day isolation period

  • Researchers collected respiratory samples from patients sickened in Wuhan – the epicenter of the outbreak
  • They found the virus could live for up to 37 days in patients’ respiratory tracts 
  • That’s more than twice as long as the mandatory two-week isolation period 
  • In the US, there are more than 1,300 confirmed cases and 39 people have died 
  • Coronavirus symptoms: what are they and should you see a doctor?

Patients sickened with coronavirus may be infectious for up to five weeks after they first fall ill, a new study has found.

Researchers from China discovered that people could live with virus in their respiratory tracts for as long as 37 days.

That’s 2.5 times as long as the mandatory two-week isolation period required by most healthcare experts.

It comes on the heels of the World Health Organization finally declaring the global outbreak to be a pandemic on Wednesday.

In a new study, Chinese researchers collected respiratory samples from patients sickened in Wuhan – the epicenter of the outbreak. Pictured: A medical staff member speaks with a patient infected by coronavirus at Red Cross Hospital in Wuhan, March 10

They found the virus could live for up to 37 days in patients’ respiratory tracts after they first started showing symptoms. Pictured: 

For the study, published in The Lancet, 191 patients from two hospitals in Wuhan – the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak – were studied.

The team used electronic medical records to collect demographic data as well as laboratory data.

Researchers detected the RNA of the virus – which carries the genetic information – in respiratory samples from patients for a median of 20 days after they first becoming sick.  

The shortest amount of time someone was infectious was eight days and the longest amount of time was 37 days.

‘Prolonged viral shedding provides the rationale for a strategy of isolation of infected patients and optimal antiviral interventions in the future,’ the authors wrote.

‘This has important implications for both patient isolation decision making and guidance around the length of antiviral treatment.’

This is the latest in a slew of studies that have shown the virus can survive much longer than previously imagined.

A study conducted by the US government and other scientists found the virus can survive in the air for three hours and can live in surfaces for up to three days.  

Tests showed the virus could survive on copper for four hours, on cardboard for an entire day and up to 72 hours on plastic and steel. 

That’s more than twice as long as the mandatory two-week isolation period. Pictured: Medical staff check on a oronavirus patient at the Red Cross hospital in Wuhan, March 6

Members of a Servpro cleaning crew wear protective gear as they enter the Life Care Center of Kirkland, a long-term care facility linked to several confirmed coronavirus cases, March 12


The clean-up crew wore white hazardous material suits and respirators, and carried power washers as they entered the facility (left and right)

And a German study found infected patients shed large amounts of the virus before symptoms appear.

This means that when people only showed  minor symptoms, such as fatigue or a cough, it was still easy to spread the virus to others.

Worldwide, more than 125,000 people have been infected and more than 4,600 people have died.

In the US, there are more than 1,300 confirmed cases in at least 46 states and DC and 39 people in five states have died.

At this time yesterday, there were 1,085 confirmed cases and 32 deaths. 

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