A woman in Japan who recovered from coronavirus and was released from hospital has tested positive again.
The 40-year-old woman was working on a tour bus with sightseers from Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, in January.
She was first confirmed as infected with the coronavirus on January 29.
After being discharged from hospital she tested negative for the virus on February 6, although she still had a cough at the time.
The news came after a woman working as a tour bus guide tested positive for the coronavirus for a second time, Osaka’s prefectural government said, the first known person in Japan and one of very few worldwide to do so amid growing concerns about the spread of the infection.
A female pedestrian crosses a busy road in Japan beneath banners promoting the upcoming Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Concerns the competition may have to be cancelled are spreading as infected cases continue to rise
She had no symptoms a week later, but returned to the doctor on February 21 complaining of a sore throat and chest pains.
On Wednesday, she tested positive for the coronavirus for a second time, officials in Osaka said.
The driver of the tour bus also tested positive for the virus.
At least 186 people in Japan have so far contracted the virus, with three deaths in the country linked to the outbreak.
Almost 700 people have been diagnosed with the virus on board the
There have been four deaths linked to the virus from the ship.
The government has come under pressure for a relatively hands-off approach to the virus, but on Thursday the Osaka prefectural government said it would expand screening of patients to a broader group than currently stipulated by central guidelines.
‘We will make sure that people who should be tested, get tested, and will avoid a worst-case scenario by preventing these people from developing symptoms and serious conditions,’ Osaka governor Hirofumi Yoshimura said.
One expert has warned that quarantine periods may have to be extended.
Prof Rowland Kao, Professor of Veterinary Epidemiology and Data Science at the University of Edinburgh, said: ‘Assuming that there is a minimal possibility of misdiagnosis, it still remains unclear from the published reports whether the person involved was likely re-infected, or whether this represents an infection that may have been partially cleared or perhaps has gone latent.
‘In either case, given the number of reported cases thus far, it would seem unlikely that this is a common occurrence, and thus should have only a small impact on the overall epidemic projections themselves.’
‘Of possibly greater concern are the implications for control measures – should quarantine periods be extended? It also makes contact tracing even more difficult, potentially straining resources.’
However, Prof Paul Hunter, Professor in Medicine, University of East Anglia (UEA), cautioned against making any hasty decisions until more information becomes available.
‘There is so much we do not know about this case to give a properly informed opinion. Did the woman test negative after her last positive and if so how many tests were negative before her initial discharge? Does she have any underlying illness or is she on any treatment that could affect her immune system?
‘The report reinforces the fact that we have to investigate all such findings really thoroughly and report such information if we are to make the best decisions based on sound scientific evidence.
‘At this time I would council against changing management guidelines based on this case but we do need to always keep them under review,’ he said.
WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS OF THE CORONAVIRUS?
- The signs of COVID-19, the infection caused by the coronavirus, are often mild and are very similar to a cold, flu or chest infection.
- Typical symptoms of infection include a fever, a cough, and shortness of breath or difficulty breathing.
- These are common complaints at this time of year, so where someone has travelled or who they have come into contact with are important in determining whether they might have coronavirus.
- The NHS considers people to be at risk if they have the symptoms above and have recently travelled to mainland China, South Korea, Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia, Macau, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, or the north of Italy (north of Pisa and Florence).
- People who have, in the past two weeks, been to the Hubei province of China, Iran, the South Korean cities of Daegu or Cheongdo in South Korea, or one of 11 quarantined towns in northern Italy are considered to be at risk even if they feel well.
- The 11 towns in Italy are Codogno, Castiglione d’Adda, Casalpusterlengo, Fombio, Maleo, Somaglia, Bertonico, Terranova dei Passerini, Castelgerundo, San Fiorano and Vo’ Euganeo.
- Those who have come into contact with others who have visited those places and then feel ill may also be at risk.
- People who fit any of the categories above should stay at home and self-isolate, away from other people, and phone NHS 111 for more advice. If you think you have the coronavirus do not go to a doctor’s surgery or hospital.
- The virus can spread through coughing, sneezing, or by being close to someone for prolonged periods of time.
- To protect themselves, people should cough and sneeze into a tissue and throw it away, wash their hands and avoid contact with sick people.