22 Apr 2020

Covid-19: Health Ministry cautious over reports of re-infection

4:24 pm on 22 April 2020

The Health Ministry has no plans to routinely re-test people for Covid-19 after they have recovered from the virus.

A medical assistant in protective equipment holds a test for the coronavirus Sars-Cov-2 in her hands.

Photo: Patrick Pleul / dpa-Zentralbild / ZB / AFP

  • If you have symptoms of the coronavirus, call the NZ Covid-19 Healthline on 0800 358 5453 (+64 9 358 5453 for international SIMs) or call your GP

Scores of people in China and South Korea have tested positive for a second time for the virus, even after recovering from it once.

Health professionals and the Health Ministry have said this may be a result of vestiges of the original infection hanging around, not a new infection.

"We are closely monitoring research from well-conducted studies," the ministry said in a statement.

"It's worth noting that any reports that talk about virus reactivation or reinfection without looking at virus viability (ability to replicate) are inherently flawed, and should be treated with caution."

While it had no plans to routinely re-test people, if someone were to test positive after they had recovered, they would need to self-isolate again, the ministry said.

Some re-testing was being requested from labs by employers, to clear people who had had the virus.

"If the result of a re-test is positive, it will not be recorded as a new case," the ministry said.

It is not collating information about re-testing, and did not respond to a question of what data it was gathering from people who have recovered from the virus.

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