As the global pandemic continues, researchers from the University of Hong Kong have claimed the world's first case of coronavirus reinfection.
Per The Sydney Morning Herald, the 33-year-old male first contracted the virus during China's first wave of the pandemic, but recovered and was discharged in mid-April. He has since tested positive again in mid-August, after travelling through Spain and the United Kingdom.
Researchers discovered "several differences in the sequences of the virus from the first and second infections," according to New Scientist, which suggests the man had been infected with two separate strains of the virus.
When the man's second test came back positive, he was showing no symptoms and never developed them.
"This case illustrates that reinfection can occur just after a few months of recovery from the first infection," the Hong Kong team said.
"Our findings suggest that [the virus] may persist in the global human population as is the case for other common cold-associated human coronaviruses, even if patients have acquired immunity via natural infection."
Melbourne CBD during stage four lockdowns
“Since the immunity can be short-lasting after natural infection, vaccination should also be considered for those with one episode of infection," researchers added. “Patients with previous COVID-19 infection should also comply with epidemiological control measures such as universal masking and social distancing.”
Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, the technical lead for COVID-19 at the World Health Organisation, said: "I don’t want people to be afraid. We need people to understand that if they are infected, even if it is only a mild case, they do develop an immune response."
The Hong Kong study will be published in the respected Clinical Infectious Diseases journal.
Currently, Victoria is under stage four lockdowns as it grapples with the second wave of infections. Australia's death toll stands at 517 at time of publishing.
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