FEARS have been raised that the coronavirus may be able to remain in the body and “reactivate” later after 51 recovered patients tested positive again.
South Korea has been among the most successful countries globally in controlling the outbreak, using strict quarantining and widespread testing to slow its spread of the virus.
The number of new cases being diagnosed each day in the country is now at levels last seen as the pandemic was getting underway in February.
The 51 cases were identified as part of a study conducted in Daegu, the epicentre of the outbreak in South Korea, by a team of epidemiologists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The center said it did not believe the patients had been reinfected, but that the virus had remained at undetectable levels in their cells and later “reactivated”.
The claim runs contrary to the bulk of current evidence about how the virus works.
Speaking to MailOnline, Paul Hunter, an infectious diseases professor at the University of East Anglia, said: “I agree that these will not be reinfections but I do not think these will be reactivations.
“Personally I think the most likely explanation is that the clearance samples were false negative.”