CASPER, Wyo — A report from the Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) published on May 19 suggests that people who re-test positive for the COVID-19 virus aren’t actively infected or at risk of spreading the virus to contacts.
On April 14, the KCDC began monitoring 285 patients who had previously recovered from the coronavirus and had been discharged from isolation, but who had tested positive again. 44.7% had presented symptoms such as cough or sore throat. KCDC monitored these “re-positive” patients and 790 of their contacts, including family and co-workers.
“From the monitoring of contacts, as of [May 18], no case has been found that was newly confirmed from exposure during re-positive period alone,” the KCDC report states. In other words, no new infections have been confirmed as a result of being in contact with someone who has re-tested positive after recovery and isolation.
25 of the 790 contacts have tested positive for COVID-19, but those were previously confirmed cases and not believed to be a result of contact with with the recovered cases. 3 additional newly-positive cases among the contacts were all found to have had a history of contact with Shincheonji religious group or a confirmed new case in their family.
Lab analysis was conducted on 108 of the 285 re-positive cases. According to the KCDC, virus isolation in cell cultures of respiratory samples of 108 re-positive cases, all results were negative (i.e. virus not isolated).
Of the 23 re-positive cases from which the first and the second serum samples were obtained, 96% were positive for neutralizing antibodies. ELISA and rapid serology tests for COVID-19 identify antibodies that develop in reaction to COVID-19, rather than the virus itself.
Sciencenews.org suggests that re-positive results may be picking up genetic information from dead or non-infectious viruses.
The Wyoming Department of Health provides COVID-19 case, variant, death, testing, hospital and vaccine data online. The department also shares information about how the data can be interpreted. COVID-19 safety recommendations are available from the CDC.