J Med Virol. 2020 Jun 17:10.1002/jmv.26192. doi: 10.1002/jmv.26192. Online ahead of print.
This study reviewed the serial real-time reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) results of 37 patients admitted to our hospital in Wuhan, China, who had three or more sequential negative results before discharge. Of these 37 patients, 14 (~38%) had a positive rRT-PCR result after a negative result during convalescence, and 5 (~14%) had a positive rRT-PCR result after two consecutive negative results during convalescence. These results suggest that it may be necessary to require that patients have three consecutive negative results before discharge, to ensure that they do not spread infection among members of their household, or in the community. We believe that our study makes a significant contribution to the literature because it is not currently the standard of care to require patients to have three consecutive negative results before discharge. Our results suggest that a relatively high proportion of patients may continue to shed severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 after they have clinically recovered, and thus may transmit the infection to others.