Live virus in feces doesn’t suggest change in transmission
Global Times


Medical staff receive a patient infected with the novel coronavirus at the temporary hospital converted from Wuhan Sports Center in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, Feb. 12, 2020. (Photo: Xinhua)

The discovery of the live virus causing COVID-19 in the feces of a patient does not suggest that the primary form of transmission has changed, China's health authority said on Thursday.

A lab team led by top epidemiologist Zhong Nanshan detected live new coronavirus in the feces of a patient in critical condition in Guangzhou, South China's Guangdong Province, according to Zhao Jincun, deputy director of a state key laboratory of respiratory diseases, on Thursday.

Zhao noted that the discovery is not accidental - the lab team of another top medical advisor Li Lanjuan had a similar finding on Thursday, which suggests a potential new way for the transmission of the novel coronavirus, but further studies are needed to determine whether it will cause human-to-human transmission. 

Mi Feng, spokesperson for the China National Health Commission responded to the lab team's new detection at the press conference on Thursday, noting that detecting live novel coronavirus in the patient's feces does not suggest a change in the virus' primary transmission, which is through respiratory and contact channels. 

The isolation of the virus in the patient's feces indicates that the virus can proliferate in the digestive tract, but the main clinical manifestations of COVID-19 patients remain fever, fatigue and dry cough, not gastrointestinal symptoms, said Mi.

The significance of alimentary tract transmission still needs further observation and study, noted Mi.