President Donald Trump tested positive for COVID-19 on October 2 and spent three days at the hospital before returning to the White House on October 6.
On October 13, a week after leaving the hospital, he attended a crowded re-election campaign rally in Florida, where many people were not wearing face masks. He also said he would kiss everyone in the audience.
Was any of that prudent? No, because he could still be infectious.
Note: Trump is playing a dangerous game when he downplays the coronavirus. Infections are still rising and the US remains the most infected country in the world during this pandemic. More than 215,000 Americans have died.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, once you’ve been infected you should not be around people 10 days after your symptoms first appeared AND you have been fever free and not using fever-reducing medications for at least 24 hours. If you have any other symptoms, they must also be improving.
For people who are severely sick, increase the ten days to 20 days. And to be entirely sure, the CDC recommends two negative COVID-19 tests taken 24 hours apart.
Now, Trump was certainly out and about less than 10 days after his symptoms appeared – he travelled back to the White House accompanied by others. So that’s not responsible.
Now, can Trump or any recovered patients get COVID-19 again and once again infect others? Can they infect others even if they look well? Can the virus linger around a past patient?
The World Health Organisation says yes, people who were infected with COVID-19 can still be infectious long after symptoms disappear. In fact a piece of research by a group of doctors said in a large number of sick people, the coronavirus was detected in their upper respiratory tracts weeks after symptoms disappear.
That same research also says however nearly everyone who has had the disease makes antibodies after contracting the disease. But that piece of work has not been peer reviewed so things could still change.
So, yes, you can still carry the virus around after symptoms disappear and infect others and yes, you can get sick again. Again, this illness is new and we are still learning about it.
The best thing to do is take precautions at all times, whether you’re recovering or never been ill and that includes social distancing and wearing face masks. For those at the medical front, wearing properly vetted PPE can protect you. .
The CDC has been tweeting regularly about the need to wear a mask. To see how a mask can stop the spread of COVID-19, check our last piece here and the CDC’s recent reminder here.