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Getting Answers: Testing positive for COVID-19 for multiple weeks

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TUCSON (KVOA) - Some viewers are wondering why they are still testing positive for COVID-19 weeks after they first took the initial positive test.

One viewer asked: "What if a person tests positive, had symptoms, and recovered, but still tests positive weeks later? And if that person's employer states they can not return to work until they get a negative test result? How long can a person test positive for? (I'm going on 7 weeks!)"

Dr. Carlos Perez-Velez, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer for the Pima County Health Department, in a collaboration with other University of Arizona colleagues have an article published in the Journal of Infection.

The article titled Should qualitative RT-PCR be used to determine released from isolation of COVID-19 patients? discusses why a person still tests positive weeks after clinical recovery, why a PCR test should not be used to determine when a person is released from isolation and how inappropriate testing has detrimental consequences.

Some key points in the article:

  • COVID-19 patients may have persistently positive RT-PCRs for as many as 9 weeks.
  • SARS-CoV-2 qualitative RT-PCR does not distinguish infectious from noninfectious.
  • Quantitative RT-PCRs and immunoassays are better markers of infectivity period.
  • Social isolation can have economic, physical, psychological, and social effects.

To read the full article, click here.

If you have a question about the coronavirus, email GettingAnswers@KVOA.com

Priscilla Casper

Priscilla Casper is an anchor and multi-skilled journalist for News 4 Tucson. She anchors weekdays at noon and 4 p.m.

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