The unidentified patient, who Japanese media report is in her 40s and is a resident of Osaka, first tested positive for the highly infectious COVID-19 virus on 29 January. Just days later, on 1 February, she was discharged from hospital and tested negative for the virus on 6 February.
But this week the woman, who works as a bus tour guide, reported chest pains and a sore throat - and has just been confirmed to have coronavirus for a second time. Japan's health ministry confirmed this was the first time they'd seen the same patient test positive twice for the virus.
A medical professor told the Guardian the second onset of the virus may be due to it lying dormant within the body, but experts cannot confirm this because so little is known about it. "Once you have the infection, it could remain dormant and with minimal symptoms, and then you can get an exacerbation if it finds its way into the lungs," said Professor Philip Tierno from New York University’s school of medicine.
This week, the coronavirus situation in Europe has escalated following an outbreak in northern Italy. Ten towns in the Lombardy region of the country were placed on lockdown, and the country has seen a 25% surge in cases in just 24 hours. Italy now has over 400 confirmed incidences of coronavirus, and numerous other European countries have seen their first cases of the virus as a result.
In the UK, the total number of cases has risen to 15 after two more patients tested positive this week. The Department of Health said they contracted coronavirus while in Italy and Tenerife respectively, and they have now been transferred to specialist NHS infection centres in Liverpool and London.
Should you be worried about coronavirus?
As it stands, the UK Chief Medical Officers have designated the risk of coronavirus to the public as moderate in this country. While 15 individual tests for the virus have come back as positive, there have been a further 7,119 tests that were negative. The main risk at the moment, therefore, is from people who have recently travelled to areas where the spread of coronavirus is particularly high.
The government urges anyone who has recently visited the following places to stay indoors, avoid contact with others, and to call NHS 111 to inform them of your recent travel to the area.
- Specific lockdown areas in Northern Italy as designated by the Government of Italy
- Special care zones in South Korea as designated by the Government of the Republic of South Korea
- Hubei province (returned in the past 14 days)
Typical symptoms of coronavirus include a fever and a cough, so if you notice yourself developing either, call 111. Doctors and other healthcare workers have received specialised advice about what to do if a patient presents with symptoms.
Should you be wearing a face mask to prevent coronavirus?
Before you fly into a frenzy, trying to get your hands on an increasingly coveted mask, read what Dr Jake Dunning, Head of Emerging Infections and Zoonoses at Public Health England, has to say. He told Cosmopolitan UK that while face masks play an important role in clinical settings, such as hospitals, there is very little evidence of widespread benefit from their use beyond this.
"Face masks must be worn correctly, changed frequently, removed properly, disposed of safely and used in combination with good universal hygiene behaviours in order for them to be effective," Dr Dunning advises.
"People concerned about the transmission of infectious diseases would do better to prioritise good personal, respiratory and hand hygiene.”
The main thing to remember? Keep yourself clean, wash your hands, and hold your hand over your mouth if you cough.
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