File photo: CGTN
BEIJING, March 24 (Xinhua) -- Chinese research groups have conducted autopsies on 29 COVID-19 patient bodies and found the novel coronavirus remains in their lungs after death, a Chinese expert said Tuesday.
Autopsies also showed severe damage to the patients' immune system, which could be "a very important factor" in their deaths, said Wang Guiqiang, an infectious disease expert with the Peking University First Hospital, at a press conference in Beijing.
Wang added that the infection not only causes severe pathological changes in the patients' lungs, but also results in secretions in small bronchial tubes, which makes it harder for oxygen to bind.
Clinically, it is important to keep the patients' airway open and strengthen their immunity, according to Wang.
Due to their damaged immune system, the patients would become more vulnerable to bacterial and fungal infections, which has already been observed in patients in severe conditions, Wang said, noting that concurrent infections are usually important causes of aggravation of the patients' condition and even death.
The heart, liver and kidneys were also found to be injured to different degrees, according to Wang.