COVID-19 patients have active and prolonged gut viral infection, even in the absence of gastrointestinal symptoms, scientists in Hong Kong showed.
The coronavirus may continue to infect and replicate in the digestive tract after clearing in the airways, researchers at the Chinese University of Hong Kong said in a statement Monday. The findings, published in the medical journal GUT, have implications for identifying and treating cases, they said.
SARS-CoV-2 spreads mainly through respiratory droplets -- spatters of virus-laden discharge from the mouth and nose, according to the World Health Organization. Since the first weeks of the pandemic, however, scientists in China have said infectious virus in the stool of patients may also play a role in transmission.
The finding “highlights the importance of long-term coronavirus and health surveillance and the threat of potential fecal-oral viral transmissions,” Siew Chien Ng, associate director of the university’s Centre for Gut Microbiota Research, said in the statement.
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Source: Bloomberg, 7 September 2020