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      Viral RNA load as determined by cell culture as a management tool for discharge of SARS-CoV-2 patients from infectious disease wards


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          In a preliminary clinical study, we observed that the combination of hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin was effective against SARS-CoV-2 by shortening the duration of viral load in Covid-19 patients. It is of paramount importance to define when a treated patient can be considered as no longer contagious. Correlation between successful isolation of virus in cell culture and Ct value of quantitative RT-PCR targeting E gene suggests that patients with Ct above 33–34 using our RT-PCR system are not contagious and thus can be discharged from hospital care or strict confinement for non-hospitalized patients.

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          SARS-CoV-2 Viral Load in Upper Respiratory Specimens of Infected Patients

          To the Editor: The 2019 novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) epidemic, which was first reported in December 2019 in Wuhan, China, and has been declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organization, may progress to a pandemic associated with substantial morbidity and mortality. SARS-CoV-2 is genetically related to SARS-CoV, which caused a global epidemic with 8096 confirmed cases in more than 25 countries in 2002–2003. 1 The epidemic of SARS-CoV was successfully contained through public health interventions, including case detection and isolation. Transmission of SARS-CoV occurred mainly after days of illness 2 and was associated with modest viral loads in the respiratory tract early in the illness, with viral loads peaking approximately 10 days after symptom onset. 3 We monitored SARS-CoV-2 viral loads in upper respiratory specimens obtained from 18 patients (9 men and 9 women; median age, 59 years; range, 26 to 76) in Zhuhai, Guangdong, China, including 4 patients with secondary infections (1 of whom never had symptoms) within two family clusters (Table S1 in the Supplementary Appendix, available with the full text of this letter at NEJM.org). The patient who never had symptoms was a close contact of a patient with a known case and was therefore monitored. A total of 72 nasal swabs (sampled from the mid-turbinate and nasopharynx) (Figure 1A) and 72 throat swabs (Figure 1B) were analyzed, with 1 to 9 sequential samples obtained from each patient. Polyester flock swabs were used for all the patients. From January 7 through January 26, 2020, a total of 14 patients who had recently returned from Wuhan and had fever (≥37.3°C) received a diagnosis of Covid-19 (the illness caused by SARS-CoV-2) by means of reverse-transcriptase–polymerase-chain-reaction assay with primers and probes targeting the N and Orf1b genes of SARS-CoV-2; the assay was developed by the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Samples were tested at the Guangdong Provincial Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Thirteen of 14 patients with imported cases had evidence of pneumonia on computed tomography (CT). None of them had visited the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan within 14 days before symptom onset. Patients E, I, and P required admission to intensive care units, whereas the others had mild-to-moderate illness. Secondary infections were detected in close contacts of Patients E, I, and P. Patient E worked in Wuhan and visited his wife (Patient L), mother (Patient D), and a friend (Patient Z) in Zhuhai on January 17. Symptoms developed in Patients L and D on January 20 and January 22, respectively, with viral RNA detected in their nasal and throat swabs soon after symptom onset. Patient Z reported no clinical symptoms, but his nasal swabs (cycle threshold [Ct] values, 22 to 28) and throat swabs (Ct values, 30 to 32) tested positive on days 7, 10, and 11 after contact. A CT scan of Patient Z that was obtained on February 6 was unremarkable. Patients I and P lived in Wuhan and visited their daughter (Patient H) in Zhuhai on January 11 when their symptoms first developed. Fever developed in Patient H on January 17, with viral RNA detected in nasal and throat swabs on day 1 after symptom onset. We analyzed the viral load in nasal and throat swabs obtained from the 17 symptomatic patients in relation to day of onset of any symptoms (Figure 1C). Higher viral loads (inversely related to Ct value) were detected soon after symptom onset, with higher viral loads detected in the nose than in the throat. Our analysis suggests that the viral nucleic acid shedding pattern of patients infected with SARS-CoV-2 resembles that of patients with influenza 4 and appears different from that seen in patients infected with SARS-CoV. 3 The viral load that was detected in the asymptomatic patient was similar to that in the symptomatic patients, which suggests the transmission potential of asymptomatic or minimally symptomatic patients. These findings are in concordance with reports that transmission may occur early in the course of infection 5 and suggest that case detection and isolation may require strategies different from those required for the control of SARS-CoV. How SARS-CoV-2 viral load correlates with culturable virus needs to be determined. Identification of patients with few or no symptoms and with modest levels of detectable viral RNA in the oropharynx for at least 5 days suggests that we need better data to determine transmission dynamics and inform our screening practices.
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            Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19): The epidemic and the challenges

            Highlights • Emergence of 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in China has caused a large global outbreak and major public health issue. • At 9 February 2020, data from the WHO has shown >37 000 confirmed cases in 28 countries (>99% of cases detected in China). • 2019-nCoV is spread by human-to-human transmission via droplets or direct contact. • Infection estimated to have an incubation period of 2–14 days and a basic reproduction number of 2.24–3.58. • Controlling infection to prevent spread of the 2019-nCoV is the primary intervention being used.
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              Persistence of coronaviruses on inanimate surfaces and their inactivation with biocidal agents

              Summary Currently, the emergence of a novel human coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, has become a global health concern causing severe respiratory tract infections in humans. Human-to-human transmissions have been described with incubation times between 2-10 days, facilitating its spread via droplets, contaminated hands or surfaces. We therefore reviewed the literature on all available information about the persistence of human and veterinary coronaviruses on inanimate surfaces as well as inactivation strategies with biocidal agents used for chemical disinfection, e.g. in healthcare facilities. The analysis of 22 studies reveals that human coronaviruses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) coronavirus, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus or endemic human coronaviruses (HCoV) can persist on inanimate surfaces like metal, glass or plastic for up to 9 days, but can be efficiently inactivated by surface disinfection procedures with 62–71% ethanol, 0.5% hydrogen peroxide or 0.1% sodium hypochlorite within 1 minute. Other biocidal agents such as 0.05–0.2% benzalkonium chloride or 0.02% chlorhexidine digluconate are less effective. As no specific therapies are available for SARS-CoV-2, early containment and prevention of further spread will be crucial to stop the ongoing outbreak and to control this novel infectious thread.

                Author and article information

                Eur J Clin Microbiol Infect Dis
                Eur. J. Clin. Microbiol. Infect. Dis
                European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases
                Springer Berlin Heidelberg (Berlin/Heidelberg )
                27 April 2020
                27 April 2020
                : 1-3
                [1 ]GRID grid.483853.1, ISNI 0000 0004 0519 5986, IHU-Méditerranée Infection, ; Marseille, France
                [2 ]Aix Marseille Univ, IRD, APHM, MEPHI, Marseille, France
                [3 ]Aix Marseille Univ, IRD, AP-HM, SSA, VITROME, Marseille, France
                [4 ]GRID grid.444878.3, Thai Binh University of Medicine and Pharmacy, ; Thai Binh, Viet Nam
                Author information
                © The Author(s) 2020

                Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

                : 31 March 2020
                : 21 April 2020
                Brief Report

                Infectious disease & Microbiology
                sars-cov2,covid-19,rt-pcr,co-culture,viral load,correlation
                Infectious disease & Microbiology
                sars-cov2, covid-19, rt-pcr, co-culture, viral load, correlation


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