South Korean officials on Thursday said that 141 people have re-tested positive for COVID-19, raising the number from earlier this week.
South Korea’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said it’s not clear what caused the people to test positive again for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) virus, a type of coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
“In the case of SARS and MERS, we did not see people testing positive again after full recovery,” KCDC Deputy Director Kwon Jun-wook told reporters, referring to two other coronaviruses, Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome. “This novel coronavirus appears to be very evil and shrewd.”
Among the main reasons are re-infection, inconsistent tests, or a relapse, experts have said. The KCDC said on Monday that the virus may have “reactivated.”
Kim Woo-joo, an infectious diseases expert at Korea University Hospital, stated that experts are concerned that the virus may have mutated and caused the relapse.
“About one fifth of them are healthy people with a good immune system but they still tested positive for the virus after they were initially diagnosed as cured,” Kim said. “Researchers are testing blood samples to determine whether patients are reinfected because they have problems with their own immunity system or the virus has mutated somehow to circumvent the bodily defence system.”
And Kwon said that South Korea’s government is studying cultivated samples from the 141 patients to see if they are contagious. It will take about two weeks.
“Our KCDC workers are working day and night to collect samples and conduct studies,” he told reporters.