SINGAPORE: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong announced in a June 1 (Thursday) Facebook post that he had again tested positive for Covid-19, one and a half weeks after getting infected for the first time.
“I feel fine but I am afraid I have turned COVID-19 positive again,” PM Lee, 71, said in his post, adding, “My doctors say it is a Covid rebound, which happens in 5-10% of cases. It is still infectious although the risk is not high compared to the initial infection.”
What is Covid rebound?
Covid rebound is not the same as long Covid, where debilitating symptoms such as fever and body malaise may last for weeks or months. It is usually a return of symptoms such as a sore throat or a mild fever that can occur as soon as two to eight days after testing negative or after the initial symptoms stop.
Or, in the case of PM Lee, it’s testing positive for the virus upon recovery and negative tests after initial infection, but with little or no symptoms of the disease.
And as the Prime Minister’s doctors told him, this could happen in as many as 10 per cent of people who’ve had Covid, including US President Joseph Biden, 80, who tested positive for the virus in June of last year, shortly after recovering from an initial infection.
Like PM Lee, President Biden said he was “feeling quite well” despite testing positive again.
Moreover, the two leaders had also been prescribed the antiviral medicine Paxlovid, which is given to elderly or immunocompromised patients as it works very well in preventing severe Covid symptoms that require a person to be hospitalized.
Some studies have shown that around 25 per cent of patients who follow the five-day course of treatment of Paxlovid experienced rebound Covid. However, infectious disease specialist Dr Soniya Gandhi underlined that it is important to understand that Paxlovid does not cause the recurrence of the virus.
“One theory is that the virus stopped multiplying when the patient took Paxlovid but briefly surged after the treatment was finished, leading to a reappearance of symptoms,” she added.
What should I do if I’m Covid rebound?
Patients who think they may have Covid rebound should talk to their doctor, especially if they experience a resurgence of symptoms after around 48 hours of being symptom-free.
One important thing to note is that rebounds can occur with other respiratory diseases, even with the common cold.
The only way to tell whether you have rebound Covid is if you test positive again, especially if you have no symptoms like PM Lee and President Biden.
The key, however, would be to isolate for another five days and to wear a mask for another ten days to prevent others from getting infected.
“The doctors have advised me to self-isolate until I test ART negative,” wrote PM Lee in his post.
He had planned on attending the June 1 consecration ceremony of Sri Thendayuthapani Temple, but to keep others safe, he missed the event. /TISG
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