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Coronavirus could spread via sex, study finds

Researchers said the virus may not be able to replicate in the testicles but it said the virus may "persist", as the immune system is less active in the sexual reproductive organs. Picture: Reuters

Researchers said the virus may not be able to replicate in the testicles but it said the virus may "persist", as the immune system is less active in the sexual reproductive organs. Picture: Reuters

Published May 8, 2020

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London - Patients recovering from coronavirus may still be able to pass on the virus through sex, research suggests.

The virus which causes Covid-19 was detected in the semen of men who had had the disease – prompting fears that sexual transmission could be a risk.

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Chinese researchers said that the findings of active virus – in 16 percent of patients studied – suggests that sexual abstinence for a period after infection may be wise to prevent the possibility of the virus being passed on.

Researchers said the virus may not be able to replicate in the testicles but it said the virus may "persist", as the immune system is less active in the sexual reproductive organs.

The authors, led by Dr Weiguo Zhao of the Eighth Medical Center of Chinese People’s Liberation Army General Hospital, said: "Abstinence or condom use might be considered as preventive means for these patients."

The researchers studied 50 men, of whom 38 were able to provide a semen specimen.

Researchers analysed semen samples from 38 men who tested positive for Covid-19. Some had recovered while others were infectious.

One in six had traces of the coronavirus in their semen - including those who were no longer sick.

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Commenting on the findings, Professor Allan Pacey, of the University of Sheffield, said: "We should not be surprised if the virus which causes Covid-19 is found in the semen of some men, since this is been shown with many other viruses such as Ebola and Zika."

The Chinese study did not prove that the virus could be transmitted through sex - it only suggested it was a possibility.

But the finding prompted the team to warn that abstaining from sex while infected - and during recovery - would likely be a wise decision until the truth is uncovered.  

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