People hospitalised with Covid-19 can continue to transmit the virus for a period of between 8 and 37 days and on average about 20 days. This is indicated by a study published in Lancet, which in fact reiterates that it is precisely the symptomatic patients, those who need hospitalisation, who are the most contagious. 

“The large viral shedding observed in our study has important implications for guiding precautions decisions,” notes one of the coauthors Bin Cao, of Friendship Hospital and Capital Medical University in Beijing and indicates “the need for negative tests for Covid-19. before patients are discharged from hospital. ” 

Furthermore, precisely because of their high contagiousness (and this also explains the high number of positive doctors and nurses after treating patients), health workers must never lower their guard and always protect themselves adequately to avoid contagion.

What does it mean to heal?

Healing from the coronavirus, for those with important symptoms, it is not a walk in the park. Healing is tied to two criteria, clinical and virological.

Clinical healing consists in the disappearance of symptoms, in this case cough, cold, fever, general malaise, difficulty in breathing and, in the most serious situations, pneumonia. It is at this point that convalescence starts.

Then there is virological healing: a patient tested positive for the virus and subjected to periodic examination of the pharyngeal swab at a certain point becomes negative. Between the two healings, there can be a minimum phase shift. Even those who no longer have the virus may have to stay in the hospital waiting to fully recover. Vice versa, the symptoms may disappear but the virus is still present in the body and for this reason it is important to perform more than one tampon before being discharged.

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How long do the symptoms last in severe cases?

The study also identifies the main risk factors for death among these patients: in addition to previous diseases, signs of sepsis and blood clotting problems are indicated.

The research examined 191 patients hospitalised in Wuhan at Jinyintan Hospital and Wuhan Pulmonary Hospital: 137 were discharged and 54 died in the hospital. Researchers compared medical records, treatment data and laboratory results between survivors and non-survivors, describing, for the first time, the complete picture of Covid-19 progression.

The median duration of the fever was about 12 days but the cough lasted longer; in survivors, the symptom of dyspnea (shortness of breath) ceases after about 13 days, but lasts until death in the non-survivors.

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The time of discharge and death

On average, patients had an average age of 56 years, 62% were men and 48% had underlying chronic conditions, the most common being high blood pressure and diabetes. 

From the onset of the disease, the median time to discharge was 22 days and the average time to death was 18.5 days. Compared to survivors, deceased patients were more likely to have elevated blood levels of the d-dimer protein responsible for clots (thrombi) in the blood vessels and higher levels of Interleukin 6 (a biomarker of inflammation and chronic diseases).