Man spends 81 days in hospital with no symptoms of COVID-19

A Taiwanese businessman who was put into a negative pressure isolation ward in January ,after breaching quarantine on his return from Wuhan, China, then testing positive for COVID-19, was finally released today, Taiwan’s Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) confirmed.

The man, who is not identified in media reports, but described as in his fifties, returned to Taiwan from Wuhan in January. However, instead of self-quarantining at home as required by anti-epidemic regulations, he went out to nightclubs in Kaohsiung City.

A subsequent investigation found that he had had a fever of 37.3°C and received treatment at a hospital while in Wuhan on January 20, before returning to Taiwan on January 21. The man had concealed his travel history and hospital visit.

On January 23, the man was put into a negative pressure isolation unit in a hospital, and the next day, January 24, returned a positive test result for COVID-19.

During his hospitalization the businessman was not in any way sick, according to ET Today, however, subsequent tests showed sometimes negative results, and sometimes positive.

Release from the isolation ward requires three negative tests in a row, but until yesterday, April 12, no three tests in a row returned negative results.

On April 9, a member of the CECC specialist consultative group described the man’s case as the country’s most stubborn. The patient would return two negative tests in a row, then a positive. A few days later there would be another negative, then in recent days several weak positives in a row. It began to have an affect on the patient’s mental state, according to an article in Health and Hope.

According to a report in CTS, also April 9, the man had already been tested more than 20 times. Chairman of the The Infectious Diseases Society of Taiwan, Huang Li-min ( 黃立民 ), was quoted in the report as saying that German scientists believed these kind of people were not contagious. But according to Dr Huang, if there is a positive reaction for the RNA, there could be the possibility of infection. “The highest standards should be used for epidemic prevention. The Taiwanese businessman must temporarily be isolated from the outside world, and cannot be discharged for safety reasons,” Dr Huang said.

After finally reaching the standard of three consequent negative tests, concluding on April 12, the businessman was released today, April 13.

Health Minister and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中)  confirmed at a regular press conference today that the man had been discharged after an 81 day stay in isolation, and that he had been the longest hospitalized case in the country.

Despite the sometimes positive, sometimes negative test results on one patient over a nearly three-month period, nobody has raised questions about the veracity or accuracy of the PCR-based reagent tests used to determine if someone is infected with the novel coronavirus.

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One thought on “Man spends 81 days in hospital with no symptoms of COVID-19

  • April 15, 2020 at 5:40 am

    The title did not precisely communicate the fact and could cause confusions. The man did develop fever. “No symptoms of COVID-19” could open up questions even for people who just glance through this page, too — which symptoms are definitive indicators? Is he hospitalized for so long just because the doctors in Taiwan don’t have dependable test kits?

    I think one valuable point this article is trying to make, is that the long hospitalization and flipping test results in this edge case demonstrates how nasty this virus is, and the public should stay on high alert rather than thinking there’s a clear borderline between safety and risk.


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