March 31, 2020

Sputum, feces remain SARS-CoV-2-positive in patients after conversion of pharyngeal samples to negative

By: Judy Mathias

Editor's Note

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.

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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.

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