A coronavirus patient in San Antonio, Texas, who was released from quarantine by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) later tested positive for the novel virus and is now back in quarantine, according to the city’s mayor.
The patient, who was not identified, was under mandatory quarantine at the Texas Center for Infectious Disease after being evacuated from Wuhan, China — the epicenter of the outbreak — on a State Department-chartered flight to Lackland Air Force Base in February. Over the weekend, the individual was allowed to return home after meeting criteria to be released — which includes two consecutive negative tests collected 24 hours apart and being asymptomatic, the CDC said in a statement to San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg.
However, “a pending, subsequent lab test came up positive for the virus that causes COVID-19,” or the novel virus, according to the statement.
“Following the patient’s release, results of a subsequent sample were received and determined to be weakly positive. Out of an abundance of caution, CDC decided to bring the individual back into isolation at a local medical facility,” the CDC said, according to the mayor’s office.
“The discharged patient had some contact with others while out of isolation, and CDC and local public health partners are following up to trace possible exposures and notify them of their potential risk,” it continued.
It was not immediately clear why the additional test was performed.
Responding to the news, Nirenberg called the false discharge “unacceptable.”
“The fact that the CDC allowed the public to be exposed to a patient with a positive COVID-19 reading is unacceptable,” said Mayor Ron Nirenberg. “We will hold the CDC accountable [for] providing complete transparency for the public. This situation is exactly why we have been asking for federal officials to accept the guidance of our medical community.”
He added, in part: “Our San Antonio Metro Health District and other local officials continue to address the situation with the utmost professionalism and care. We will do everything within our power to ensure that the community is kept safe and the exposure risk remains low.”
The news comes after some patients in China’s Guangdong Province who were treated for the coronavirus and were discharged later tested positive again. About 14 percent of patients discharged in the province later tested positive for the virus again during follow-up examinations, Song Tie, a Guangdong health official, said last week. The secondary positives have called into question the accuracy of the Chinese diagnostic tests.
There are now more than 89,000 individual coronavirus cases globally, according to Monday estimates, with some 80 cases in the U.S. alone. More than 3,000 people have died worldwide.