If the findings of a Lancet study on prolonged presence of COVID-19 RNA in faecal matter is believed, then elimination of the deadly virus from the planet may not be possible even as it has already killed over 20,000 across the globe.
It could also pose a serious threat in India where open defecation still exists in rural and urban areas.
According to the study approved by Fifth Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-sen University, Zhuhai, China, the virus through faecal-oral transmission could remain viable in the environment for thirty days that could pose a serious threat of vast spreading of the virus and affect millions.
The study, led by researchers including Yongjian Wu, Cheng Guo, Lantian Tang, Zhongsi Hong, Jianhui Zhou and Xin Dong, has found that presence of corona virus in faecal matter could remain for five weeks after patients' respiratory samples test negative for the virus infected patients.
The study was conducted on 98 patients suffering from corona virus between January 16, 2020 and March 15, 2020. The samples of respiratory and feacal matter were taken from 74 patients.
The study has revealed that 41 (55 %) of 74 patients with faecal samples were found positive for corona virus. The faecal samples remained positive longer than that of respiratory swab samples.
Notably, a patient affected with the virus had positive faecal samples for 33 days continously after the respiratory samples were found negative.
"However study data suggests that faecal samples lag behind that of a respiratory tract samples, therefore, we don't suggest the addition of faecal samples to the existing diagnostic procedures for corona virus," said The Lancet.
"However, the decision on when to discontinue precautions to prevent transmission in patients who have recovered from the virus is crucial for management of medical resources.
We would suggest the addition of faecal testing for the virus," added The Lancet.