South Korea reopens schools as virus fears persist
May 21 2020
Four nurses working at Samsung Medical Center have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, authorities said Tuesday, raising concerns over the first infection involving health workers at a major hospital here. "We cannot avoid initial confusion and anxiety but I believe we can overcome those as we've been calmly and swiftly handling and containing COVID-19", senior quarantine official Kwon Jun-wook told reporters Tuesday.
Korean Center for Disease Control and Prevention scientists studied nearly 285 coronavirus survivors who tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2 virus after they recovered from COVID-19 illness that gave a negative test result before.
In Anseong, south of Seoul, schools have delayed reopening due to an ongoing contact tracing of a new COVID-19 patient.
None of the 790 people that the patients came into contact with were found to be infected with COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
Carol Shoshkes Reiss, a professor of Biology and Neural Science at New York University, said: "Although somebody can recover and no longer be infectious, they may still have these little fragments of [inactive] viral RNA which turn out positive on those tests". The agency also said that re-positive cases would now be identified as "PCR re-detected after discharge from isolation".
South Korean authorities have said that under the revised protocols, if once recovered and completed the isolation period, patients do not need to test negative before returning to work or to school.
It comes as deputy chief scientific adviser, Professor Dame Angela McLean, said she would draw "particular lessons" from South Korea when asked about what the United Kingdom has learnt from overseas.
But, as with the general population, epidemiologists say those rates likely do not include asymptomatic children, since people without symptoms are rarely tested for the infection.
Scientists found that, on average, it took 44.9 days from the time the first symptoms appeared to test positive after discharge.
The country, with a population of more than 50 million, has carried out 776,433 tests since January 3, including 10,859 the previous day. Almost 11,000 people in South Korea have tested positive for the virus.
It comes after the country reported on Friday that 91 recovered coronavirus patients have tested positive for the disease again.
According to the Herald, as of Friday, South Korea had 447 patients who tested positive again after recovering. The re-positive patients weren't found to spread any lingering infection, as mentioned in a report in Bloomberg.