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New research suggests people who test positive for COVID-19 may need weeks to clear virus

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – “We are still learning more and more the impacts of this disease and trying to understand what will be the long term implications,” Dr. Neeta Thakur, MD/Assistant Professor of Medicine at UCSF, said.

New research suggests people who test positive for COVID-19 may need weeks, not just days, to be sure they are clear of the virus.

This is according to the British Medical Journal.

“We are all learning more and more about coronavirus and like many other viral illnesses, there are a variety of different presentations and lengths of illness,” Thakur said. 

The coronavirus has infected more than six million Americans and we are now learning the impacts of COVID-19 can drag on longer than expected.

According to the CDC, most Americans who test positive for the virus can return to work or school 10 days after the onset of symptoms, but new research published this week in the British Medical Journal says symptoms may be nowhere near finished by then and patients may need to wait more than a month before being re-tested to know whether they have cleared the virus.

And with so many false negative tests, many people may be spreading the virus without even knowing it.

“Those symptoms can vary and can be anywhere from real extreme fatigue to shortness of breath to memory difficulties. We are still trying to learn more about why some patients have prolonged symptoms and other people do not,” Thakur said. 

Dr. Neeta Thakur has been providing care for COVID-19 patients in the ICU and just opened an outpatient clinic at San Francisco General Hospital for post-COVID care in June. 

She has seen many patients with memory issues and those requiring rehabilitation and physical therapy.

“I think the thing that is alarming to me is the amount of cognitive impairment we have seen in patients,” Thakur said. 

She says there is still a lot to learn about the virus and it’s still unclear why some patients, now being called “long haul” patients, have symptoms for a prolonged period of time.

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