Twice-infected, negative then positive: Unusual behavior of coronavirus raising concern

There are cases of people who tested positive for the virus, were isolated, given a clean bill of health, then tested positive again.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Can the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) reinfect people who have already recovered from the illness, or who test positive after being given the all-clear?

There have been several cases like this already, including in Israel.

Israel Hayom reported on Sunday that Shimon Dahan was quarantined off the cruise ship Diamond Princess, docked off Japan after testing positive for COVID-19, and then was allowed to return to Israel after two blood tests showed he was no longer a carrier.

After landing in Israel, he gave blood again, and spent the next few hours greeting his whole family and rejoicing with his friends.

The Israeli blood test, to everyone’s surprise, showed he was again positive for the virus. He went back into isolation.

His wife, Shalva, had tested negative in Japan from the start, but tested positive in Israel and received the room next to Shimon in the hospital.

It’s possible the reason is because the Israeli test is much more sensitive than the one in Japan, and picked up even a fragment of the virus that was left over in the body. This would not necessarily mean that the person is infectious.

There have also been several reported cases in China and one in Japan where people who actually suffered through the illness and recovered then tested positive again. Many experts are skeptical that this means one can get the virus twice.

“I’m not saying that reinfection can’t occur, will never occur, but in that short time it’s unlikely,” Florian Krammer, a virologist at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York, told The New York Times.

Even the mildest of infections should leave at least short-term immunity against the virus in the recovering patient, he said.

Many cases of the virus have been relatively mild, and some of those infected apparently show no symptoms at all.

That can allow for easier spread, and worries are mounting that prolonged quarantines, supply chain disruptions and a sharp reduction in tourism and business travel could weaken the global economy or even cause a recession.

On Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average dropped 1,191 points – the worst one-day fall in history. By end-of-trade on Friday, the American stock market had their worst week since the middle of the financial crisis in 2008.

However, even with the S&P 500 at 12 percent below the most recent peak, it means that most investors have only lost their gains from 2019, which was an excellent year for the markets.

A real bear market is defined as a 20 percent or more drop, so most analysts are currently calling the virus-fear selloff “a market correction.”