Coronavirus patients no longer pose a threat of spreading the killer bug after 11 days, according to a new study.
Top Singaporean infectious disease experts are confident patients can then be safely discharged even if they still test positive having studied 73 patients.
The researchers suggest the study could encourage hospital bosses to speed up when to discharge patients, freeing up resources. The majority of hospitals require two negative tests before someone is considered to have recovered.
The paper, released on Saturday by the National Centre for Infectious Diseases (NCID) and the Academy of Medicine’s Chapter of Infectious Disease Physicians, claims after 11 days it “does not equate to infectiousness”.
“Based on the accumulated data since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, the infectious period of [ coronavirus ] in symptomatic individuals may begin around 2 days before the onset of symptoms, and persists for about 7-10 days after the onset of symptoms,” the researchers wrote.
Tests can often mistakenly pick up fragments of the bug which are no longer contagious – meaning tests may still come back positive for two weeks, the paper added.
“Active viral replication drops quickly after the first week, and the viable virus was not found after the second week of illness,” the experts said.
Dr Asok Kurup, chair of the infectious disease chapter which undertook the research, told the Straits Times: “Studies are still going on and we will get more data, but we will see the same thing as there is a great deal of science in this. So there is no need to wait.”
The World Health Organisation said earlier this month the Covid-19 incubation period lasts up to 14 days. While the UK’s Chief Medical Advisor Chris Whitty has said the average patient spends eight days in the hospital with COVID-19.
If a patient has serious complications and requires a ventilator, the stay is doubled to an average of 16 days. It comes as another 164 hospital deaths were reported yesterday in the UK – the second-lowest increase on a Sunday since the lockdown began in late March.