COVID-19 patient can stay positive for months without symptoms

Azlan Othman

Patients can stay COVID-19 positive for two months or more based on our experience in this country and even not show any symptoms, said Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar when asked on the recent cases involving three foreign workers believed to have been infected from March this year.

“The barber where the foreign worker who tested positive visited has tested negative. Contact tracing of the barber’s contacts also showed negative results. The public who think they have visited the barber can go to the Belait hospital for swab testing,” the minister told the daily press conference yesterday.

The minister said since the case happened over a month ago, disinfection was not necessary while the public need not be worried.

Asked about the antibody survey the Ministry of Health is carrying out in the community this week, Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham said the antibody testing is to find out whether there is any community spread in the society since the border was closed in mid-March this year while the virus spread globally in late December last year and early January this year.

He said this is being done to find out whether the community has an antibody or otherwise. “The antibody testing is not yet completed and will end next week where some 400 to 500 tests will be conducted. We expect limited community spread if there is any. We will swab them again for diagnostic purposes and check whether the virus is present in their body or otherwise. Our sample is still small before we start to open up restrictions in the future. Such a survey is also to find out whether the community has an antibody or otherwise,” the minister said.

Asked whether blood plasma of COVID-19 patients will be used to treat patients affected with the disease as trialed in other countries with the antibodies they have built up will help clear the virus in others, Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham said a few foreign reports have revealed the blood plasma of healthy people can help the recovery of the patients.

“We are looking into this. It is not as easy as it sounds as we need to know the pros and cons,” the minister added.