Myongji Hospital discharged two patients of new coronavirus on Wednesday, dubbed COVID-19, – third and 17th – as their symptoms have drastically improved, the hospital said in a news conference.
|Myongji Hospital Chairman Lee Wang-jun (second from right), flanked by physicians who treated discharged coronavirus patients, explains detailed process during a news conference at the hospital in Goyang on the northern outskirts of Seoul on Wednesday.|
The hospital had been periodically conducting PCR tests on the two patients to check if there are any viruses left in their bodies. As both of the patients tested negative for the virus for two consecutive times, the hospital decided to discharge the patient.
With the two patients additionally being discharged, Korea has released seven patients out of 28 confirmed cases.
During the news conference, a physician who treated the third patient explained the results of their research into the daily development of the new coronavirus within the patient, as they used different antiviral agents.
"At the beginning of hospitalization, the patient was treated with conventional therapy," Professor Lim Jae-gyun said. "After using Kaletra (Ingredient: lopinavir/ritonavir), an antiretroviral drug treating human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)-1, from the eighth day, the hospital started measuring the relative virus detection using quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) test."
As a result, the hospital was able to observe that the amount of virus detected decreased from the day it started the administration of Kaletra, as well as drastic improvement in his pneumonia symptoms, he added.
Professor Lim stressed that the test results showed that if a relatively high-risk patient – elderly patient or patients with underlying diseases – show symptoms of the new coronavirus, hospitals should positively consider treating them with Kaletra at an early stage.
"However, as the data is the result of a single patient, more research is needed to prove its clinical efficacy," Lim said. "We heard that China is conducting a study of about 200 people, and we hope they get a clearer result."
The hospital said that the Journal of Korean Medical Science plans to publish its report detailing the treatment process on next Monday, as the world's first research paper that studied the changes in the new coronavirus at daily intervals when treated with Kaletra.
Myongji Hospital officials also commented on the concerns surrounding the 28th patient who was confirmed on Tuesday.
The patient caused considerable controversy in Korea as she was confirmed after the maximum incubation period of 14 days.
As the patient was the first case in Korea to test positive after the incubation period, there was controversy over whether the patient's symptoms were either confirmed after the incubation period or asymptomatic. The controversy also brought about a debate on whether or not the maximum incubation period should change from the current 14 days.
However, Myongji Hospital staff in charge of the patient concluded that the patient was not confirmed with the virus after the maximum incubation period.
"The 28th patient appears to have had very mild symptoms, which is not an unusual situation," Myongji Hospital Chairman Lee Wang-jun said. "The hospital's physicians all agreed that the patient was confirmed with the virus during her recovery period."
Professor Choi Kang-won of the Department of Infectious Diseases at the hospital, also said, "The incubation period can be translated to the moment of exposure to the pathogen until when the first symptoms appear and it is hard for the patient to determine the incubation period as there is no obvious first symptom."
The disease may end up as an asymptomatic or non-invasive infection, Choi added. A non-invasive infection is a condition in which a pathogen enters the body and shows no symptoms after the incubation period.
The hospital believes that the patient took painkillers for 28 days after receiving plastic surgery on Jan. 21, which worked to mask any possible symptoms, such as fever. Also, the patient did not show any symptoms after she stopped taking the drugs, and she is portraying very few symptoms currently.
However, the hospital stressed that asymptomatic infection in the patient does not lead to asymptomatic transmission.
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