Medical staff approach Lei Muk Shue care home in Hong Kong on Monday. AFP
A Hong Kong man who recovered from COVID-19 was infected again four-and-a-half months later in the first documented instance of human re-infection, researchers at the University of Hong Kong said on Monday.
The findings indicate the disease, which has killed more than 800,000 people worldwide, may continue to spread amongst the global population despite herd immunity, they said.
The 33-year-old male was cleared of COVID-19 and discharged from a hospital in April, but tested positive again after returning from Spain via Britain on Aug. 15.
The patient had appeared to be previously healthy, researchers said in the paper, which was accepted by the international medical journal Clinical Infectious Diseases. He was found to have contracted a different coronavirus strain from the one he had previously contracted and remained asymptomatic for the second infection.
“The finding does not mean taking vaccines will be useless,” Dr. Kai-Wang To, one of the leading authors of the paper, told Reuters.
“Immunity induced by vaccination can be different from those induced by natural infection,” To said.
World Health Organisation (WHO) epidemiologist Maria Van Kerkhove said on Monday that there was no need to jump to any conclusions in response to the Hong Kong case. Instances of people discharged from hospitals and testing positive again for COVID-19 infection have been reported in mainland China.
However, in those cases it was not clear whether they had contracted the virus again after full recovery — as happened to the Hong Kong patient — or still had the virus in their body from the initial infection.
One explanation was that the virus still existed in the lungs of patients but was not detected in samples taken from upper parts of the respiratory tract, he said. Other possible causes were low sensitivity of tests and weak immunity that could lead to persistent positive results, he added.
Jeffrey Barrett, an expert and consultant with the COVID-19 Genome Project at Britain's Wellcome Sanger Institute, said in emailed comments to Reuters that it was very hard to make any strong inference from a single observation.
"Given the number of global infections to date, seeing one case of re-infection is not that surprising even if it is a very rare occurrence," he said.
Six months after the coronavirus arrived in Pakistan, the country appears to have dodged the worst of the pandemic, baffling health experts and dampening fears its crowded urban areas and ramshackle hospitals will be overrun.
In terms of fatalities, India is the most affected country with nearly three-quarters of total deaths in the region – 67,376 deaths from 3,853,406 cases.
Prime Minister Imran Khan announced the ban, fearing hospitals will be overwhelmed as they were in June if people do not act responsibly.
The new case will be a setback for Thailand, which has been credited with keeping the highly contagious virus under control, while maintaining months of immigration curbs that have devastated its tourism-reliant economy. It has removed most of its internal coronavirus restrictions.
The FAHR on Wednesday announced the launch of smart screens, signboards and real-time reports on the developments of the epidemiological situation of COVID-19 at the federal government level.
“I declined to answer the questions under the rights and privileges afforded to every citizen under the United States Constitution,” Trump said in a statement.
The cronyism, press muzzling, peril and horrors of the 20-year Martial Law in the Philippines from September 21, 1972, heavily shrouded the idealist rebirth of a nation and 36 years after the Romualdez-Marcos clan was ousted on February 25, 1986 through the historic peaceful People Power, that “bad taste in the mouth,” have yet to be expelled.