In 22 patients in China with confirmed COVID-19 infection, sputum and feces remained positive for SARS-CoV-2 after pharyngeal samples were negative, this study finds.
A total of 545 specimens were collected from the 22 COVID-19 patients, including 209 pharyngeal swabs, 262 sputum samples, and 74 feces samples. In these patients, sputum and feces remained positive for SARS-COV-2 up to 39 days and 13 days, respectively, after pharyngeal samples were negative.
These findings raise concern about whether patients with negative pharyngeal swabs are truly virus-free, or whether sampling of additional body sites is needed, the researchers say. It is not known whether the positive results for SARS-COV-2 indicate that a patient continues to pose a risk for infection of others.