Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)
Picture: Jacques Naude/African News Agency (ANA)

Immunity against virus is not guaranteed, warns doctor, as woman tests positive for Covid-19 again

By Kailene Pillay Time of article published Jul 22, 2020

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If you have recovered from the Covid-19 virus, you still have to take proper precautions because you could be reinfected, as was the case for a Durban woman recently.

Durban-based general practitioner Dr Yuvan Maharaj confirmed one of his patients had again tested positive for the virus three months after recovering from the first bout.

Maharaj warned immunity was not guaranteed after a person was infected with the virus.

“Please don’t take it for granted,” he warned.

Maharaj said he first treated the Durban woman in March after she travelled to a north African country and displayed symptoms on her return.

On March 19, the woman tested positive for the coronavirus and after two weeks of isolation and vitamin boosters, she recovered.

“On July 10, the patient again contacted me to say that her colleague had tested positive for the virus and she was exposed to them. She had minimal symptoms but I advised her to go get tested,” Maharaj said.

He said he received her results on July 14 which indicated she was again infected with the virus.

He said that while she had not exhibited extreme symptoms, evidence based on reinfections in Wuhan, China showed that those reinfected were asymptomatic but were carriers of the virus and posed a risk to others.

Maharaj said he contacted the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) and their experts were monitoring the case.

“We don’t know what reinfections will do to our patients, considering South Africa’s health system and disease profiling. Tuberculosis, HIV and diabetes is prevalent in our communities and South Africans face a number of medical issues, from paediatrics to geriatrics. There is also the socio-economic issue that makes our country unique. This is uncharted territory for us all,” Maharaj said.

The GP, based in Prospecton, said he had also tested positive for the virus about two months ago and had since recovered.

“The situation is dire and is taking a severe mental, emotional and physical toll on health-care workers.

“I know the lifestyle is hard to sustain. You miss your friends and family, but the time to socialise will come again,” he said.

Maharaj also pleaded with people to keep their elderly family members safely indoors with limited exposure.

“The next few weeks will be intense. So stay at home and stay safe,” he urged.

The NICD’s Professor Cheryl Cohen said there had been several reports of patients reinfected with the virus from different countries. However, each case needed to be investigated on its own merits.

“Each case should be investigated to establish whether it is a true case of reinfection, or perhaps an incidence of variable viral shedding.

“’It is at this stage unclear to what extent reinfections with SarsCov2 (the virus that causes Covid-19) can occur,” Cohen added.

The Mercury

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