Finally, Kerala's COVID-19 'eternal patient' tests negative

62-year-old woman tests negative in Pathanamthitta after 42 days

A 62-year-old woman, who had been under treatment for COVID-19 for the past 42 days, has finally tested negative for the virus on Wednesday.

She was one of the primary contacts of the Italy-returned Ranni family, which started the post-Wuhan coronavirus spread in Kerala. She was quarantined at Kozhencherry District Hospital since March 8.

Though the woman, hailing from Cherukulanji in Pathanamthitta district, did not show any major symptoms for the disease, she couldn't be discharged from the hospital as all the swab samples taken from her turned positive till Tuesday. In fact, her samples were tested for 21 times.

However, the results returned negative on Wednesday, giving a huge relief to Kerala's health department.

Her daughter, who was also infected, had recovered and discharged from the hospital four days ago.

Her seemingly eternal illness has, however, forced the health department plan to cut down the double testing of COVID-19 patients before they are discharged from hospitals.
It was felt that the insistence on two back-to-back negative result for freeing a patient from the hospital was a waste of Kerala's limited testing facilities.

“It is generally acknowledged that a patient ceases to transmit disease after eight or 10 days of infection. Even if the patient tests positive after the infective period of eight to 10 days it does not mean that he or she would be infective. So if a patient tests negative there is no point in doing another re-confirmatory test. The method is using up both our time and resources,” a top health official in the core team said on condition of anonymity. “We are trying to convince the government and also the ICMR (Indian Council of Medical Research) to issue new testing guidelines,” he added.

Kerala has reported 426 COVID-19 cases so far, of which 117 are active patients who are currently undergoing treatment.

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