Malta now has a total of 188 cases of confirmed Coronavirus, with only two having recovered. The first confirmed cases were identified on 7 March, nearly a month ago, and do not include the ones who have recovered. How long does it take to recover from Coronavirus, and can you get it again, once recovered?
The Malta Independent asked Health Superintendent, Charmaine Gauci if she was concerned about the small number of cases recovered, but she said that what is worrying is that the virus seems to linger for a long time on most people, making them still in danger of transmitting it.
This is why people should avoid being exposed to it, as some recover quickly, while others can keep carrying it with them. This is why the authorities are keeping every patient under surveillance, Gauci said.
In reality, however, whilst the vast majority of people who catch COVID-19 will make a complete recovery, it also brings about new uncertainties about how quickly they recover.
What is the recovery rate?
Whilst it is known what most will recover from Coronavirus, even this statistic is still controversial and differing in many countries.
In Italy, the death rate at the end of March stood at a sobering 11 percent, while in neighbouring Germany, the same virus led to fatality rates of just 1 percent. In China, it was four percent, while Israel had the lowest rate worldwide, at 0.35 percent.
This number seems to differ so much between countries because of different definitions of ‘death rate’ and the impact of testing.
At the time of writing, the mortality rate among confirmed cases is reported to be about four percent, but it is also being stated, among medical professionals, that this rate is likely to be lower, because of large numbers of unreported people with mild symptoms.
When has one recovered from Coronavirus?
In Malta, Gauci has said that someone is deemed to have ‘recovered’ from Coronavirus after having tested negative for the virus in two separate tests, held 24 hours apart.
Unfortunately, there is still no conclusive study on how long one takes to recover from the virus, and for how long one remains infective. Whilst it does appear that most recover from the virus, they face a lengthy recovery time.
“It takes anything up to six weeks to recover from this disease,” said Michael Ryan of the World Health Organization told CNN. “People who suffer very severe illness can take months to recover from the illness.â€
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has also issued guidelines for when it is ok to release someone from isolation after they have been tested positive. The patient must be free from fever without the use of fever-reducing medications, no longer showing symptoms, and has tested negative on at least two consecutive respiratory specimens collected at least 24 hours apart.
“Someone who has been released from isolation is not considered to pose a risk of infection to others,” the CDC notes.
Studies have differed immensely with some suggesting that COVID-19 infectiousness peaks early and that recovering patients with mild symptoms become low-risk around 10 days after they first fall ill.
Other studies, however, have said that traces of the virus could persist in the body for up to two weeks after symptoms had vanished. Since the patient is no longer coughing or sneezing, the potential means of transmission were albeit much reduced.
A study published in The Lancet medical journal showed that the virus survived in a Chinese patient’s respiratory tract for 37 days, well above the average of 24 days for those with critical disease status.
As it currently stands, the world has 936,170 confirmed cases of Coronavirus, with 47,249 deaths and 194,578 recovered. Out of all the closed cases, 80 percent have been deemed to have recovered from the virus.
Can COVID-19 be caught again, once recovered?
There have been many conflicting reports about if one can catch the virus again, once recovered. It is deemed too early to confirm one is immune to the virus, once it has entered the body.
The same goes for immunity to Coronavirus, once one has had it. When one is exposed to a virus, the body builds up what is known as antibodies, which help combat the virus. In many circumstances, these antibodies can mean that the body is immune to the same virus for many years.