KUALA LUMPUR, April 12 — Malaysia reported today two to three coronavirus patients who tested positive again after they were discharged from hospital when they tested negative for the disease.
Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said, however, that these cases were at a “weak positive” stage, which means they were shedding coronavirus, but were not infectious.
“There’s a possibility they can be re-infected, but it’s small,” he told a press conference.
“They’re weak positive, at the virus shedding stage. It could be as if they give a positive result, but it’s a weak positive.”
The World Health Organization (WHO) said yesterday it was looking at reports from South Korea about 91 patients who tested positive for Covid-19 again after initially testing negative while being considered for discharge from hospital. A South Korean official reportedly said the virus may have been “reactivated” rather than a case of reinfection.
WHO’s clinical management guidelines state that a coronavirus patient can be discharged from hospital after two consecutive negative test results at least 24 hours apart.
“We are aware that some patients are PCR-positive after they clinically recover, but we need systematic collection of samples from recovered patients to better understand how long they shed live virus,” the Guardian quoted the WHO as saying, which cited current studies that showed a period of about a fortnight between the onset of symptoms and clinical recovery of people with mild Covid-19.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) also today reported 153 new Covid-19 cases, leading to a total of 4,683 confirmed coronavirus infections in Malaysia. A total of 113 new recoveries were reported today, leading to a total of 2,108 patients who were discharged from hospital.
Three new deaths related to coronavirus were reported today, leading to a total of 76 fatalities in Malaysia, a 1.62 per cent mortality rate.
The total active infectious Covid-19 cases in Malaysia, said MOH, was 2,499, after deducting recoveries and fatalities from the cumulative infection cases.
A total of 66 Covid-19 patients are in the intensive care unit (ICU), out of which 37 are on ventilator support.
MOH also reported four new Covid-19 sub-clusters in madrasah in Jerantut, Pahang; Penanti, Penang; Sungai Lui, Selangor; and Jasin, Melaka.
Health authorities found 62 Covid-19 cases in the Jerantut madrasah cluster, six in the Penanti madrasah cluster, 90 in the Sungai Lui madrasah cluster, and 37 in the Jasin madrasah cluster.
Update on April 14, 2020:
CodeBlue previously reported that Malaysia uses the same guidelines as WHO in discharging Covid-19 patients. MOH has since updated its discharge requirement about a week ago from two negative swabs 24 hours apart from Day 13, to only one negative result on Day 13.