Traces of the deadly coronavirus can stay in a patient’s eyes days after it is no longer detected in the nose, a scientific study revealed.
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The report is based on Italy’s first coronavirus patient, a 65-year-old woman who had traveled from China’s virus epicenter Wuhan to Italy on January 23.
Six days later, the woman was admitted to a hospital in Italy after showing symptoms including a dry cough, a sore throat, conjunctivitis and pink eye, an inflammation of the transparent membrane around the eyelid and eyeball, according to the study, published in Annals of Internal Medicine on 17 April.
After collecting swabs from her eyes, doctors found traces of the infectious virus there.
But according to the report, when her pink eye disappeared days later and infectious particles were no longer detected in her nose, the coronavirus was still present in her eyes.
They found that the virus had been replicating itself in the eyes, which could mean that it is highly contagious.
“These findings highlight the importance of control measures, such as avoiding touching the nose, mouth, and eyes and frequent hand washing,” the report said.
“Measures to prevent transmission via this route must be implemented as early as possible,” it added.
The coronavirus pandemic has infected 2,809,979 worldwide and killed 197,006 people so far, according to a John Hopkins University tally.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has advised everyone to wash their hands regularly, avoid touching their face, and cover their face and nose when coughing or sneezing to prevent the virus from spreading.