Curious Case of Singapore Patient Who Recovered from Coronavirus but Died Two Weeks Later

The Chinese national recovered from COVID-19 but died of pulmonary embolism and was tested positive for the virus again

The Coronavirus pandemic has posed many challenges to medical professionals for its ever-evolving symptoms. In the curious case of a 41-year-old Chinese national living in Singapore, the patient recovered from the virus and got discharged but died after two weeks with the same disease.

The Chinese national tested positive for COVID-19 on April 22 and was admitted subsequently. However, the patient recovered and was discharged from the hospital on May 17. But on June 4, the man, known as the case 11714, collapsed and died. The Ministry of Health, Singapore said that the man died of COVID-19 infection. "The coroner has certified that the cause of death was massive pulmonary thromboembolism following SARS-CoV-2 infection," a ministry spokesperson said.

In pulmonary embolism, blockage starts to appear in a pulmonary artery in the lungs. Coronavirus can cause such blood clots and the condition can lead to shortness of breath, coughing, chest pains. It can be fatal in severe cases.

Not Actually Reinfection

SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 Wikimedia Commons

While initially doctors and virologists asserted that chances of reinfection were next to none, it is not uncommon any more. But is it actually reinfection? A team of researchers from South Korea found that what appeared to be reinfections were most likely dead-virus fragments which led to another positive test.

Although MOH didn't elaborate on the case of patient 11714, it is likely to be his co-morbidity which caused his death. Oh Myoung-don, who chaired the central clinical committee for emerging disease control in South Korea said that the "tests detected the ribonucleic acid of the dead-virus". United States' Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr Anthony Fauci believes once a patient recovers from COVID-19, the body is likely to develop the antibody.

"Generally, we know with infections like this, that at least for a reasonable period of time, you are going to have antibodies that are going to be protective," he said in an interview. "I would be careful about saying people who get infected don't have any antibodies. It would be almost unprecedented."

Doctors Need to be Watchful


Considering such cases, pre-existing conditions are most likely responsible for deaths. Singapore's Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said that all doctors had been issued an advisory to be mindful of possible cardiovascular issues in COVID-19 patients.

In Singapore, "cardiovascular events, such as heart attacks and blood clots" have been noticed in one out of 1,000 cases, Yong said, adding that COVID-19 patients who are put in the intensive care unit (ICU) have a higher risk as they are "immobile for prolonged periods and may have multiple co-morbidities". On June 7, Singapore reported 383 new cases of Coronavirus. Out of that, the majority were migrant workers while there were 14 new cases of community transmissions.

Related topics : Coronavirus