A Gauteng man is baffled as he is still COVID-19 positive, despite a strict 14-day quarantine. The government employee conducted the test after his wife tested positive for the coronavirus that has already claimed almost 6 000 lives in the country.
According to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), re-testing people who have experienced mild illness and have recovered from COVID-19 is not recommended. The institute says a person is considered safe to return to the workplace and discontinue self-isolation if they are no longer infectious.
Speaking to SABC News on condition of anonymity – the Gauteng resident says he has been advised by his doctor to begin another period of quarantine.
“My wife was not well so I took her to the hospital. They did the COVID test for her. She tested positive, then I did the test and also tested positive. I quarantined myself at home for 14 days. They gave us the forms to go to Lancet and do the test again. We did the test, my wife is negative and I’m still positive after 15 days.”
Just this week, a Durban doctor reported having a COVID-19 patient who has been re-infected three months after her initial infection. It is believed the NICD is monitoring this case.
On whether these are isolated cases, Professor Jeffrey Mphahlele says: “It is not an isolated case. What is known about the global literature is that after 14 days, most people recover, their immunity develops and they can control infection. Therefore they pose a lesser risk but it doesn’t mean that everybody will be negative. Even if you recover, you still have to follow the non-pharmaceutical interventions.”
The Vice President for Research at the South African Medical Research Council says each case can present differently, adding that while it is advisable to re-test after a period of isolation, South Africa’s health system is struggling with the escalating infection rate.
“Ideally, you should be testing after 14 days. Now that we have full-blown community transmission, the number of requests to do the test are overwhelming. It looks like the laboratories have to prioritise who is high risk and who should be tested.”
Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize has said the shortened period is in line with guidelines issued by the World Health Organisation based on global studies, which have recently been conducted.
In the video below, Mkhize announces new track and tracing technology for COVID-19: