Coronavirus symptoms: COVID-19 lingered in woman’s eyes for more than 20 days

Coronavirus has run rings around leading health experts and governments around the world because it is highly contagious and can be asymptomatic. This makes it fiendishly difficult to contain. However, the pathogen can produce some distinct symptoms that may give it away.


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According to the NHS, the main warning signs are:

  • A high temperature – this means you feel hot to touch on your chest or back (you do not need to measure your temperature)
  • A new, continuous cough – this means coughing a lot for more than an hour, or three or more coughing episodes in 24 hours (if you usually have a cough, it may be worse than usual).

Case reports show that this list does not capture the range of possible symptoms, however.

In fact, the virus can show up in parts of the body you may not readily associate with respiratory infections, such as the eyes.

According to a recent report published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine, Italy’s first confirmed COVID-19 patient showed signs of the virus in her eyes, and it persisted here long after the virus has left the nose.

The report details that On January 23, a 65-year-old woman flew from Wuhan, China — COVID-19’s place of origin — to Italy.

Five days later, she began experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and was admitted to the hospital the following day.

Her initial symptoms included a dry cough, sore throat, coryza, or inflammation of the mucous membrane in the nose, and conjunctivitis, or pink eye.

She tested positive for the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and a few days later, she later also developed a fever, nausea and vomiting.

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On the third day she was at the hospital, healthcare professionals took an eye swab and discovered she had RNA, or genetic material, from the coronavirus in her eyes.

The healthcare professionals monitored the peculiar development by taking eye swabs daily.

Though the woman’s pink eye cleared on the 20th day she was at the hospital, they found the virus lingered up to the 21st day.

For the next couple of days, the virus was undetectable in both the nose and the eyes.


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Then, on day 27, the viral particles were detected once again in her eyes.

Commenting on this finding, the study authors said: “SARS-CoV-2 RNA was detected in ocular swabs days after it was undetectable in nasal swabs.”

What’s more, the study authors’ findings suggest the virus could first develop in the eyes and therefore become a viable route of transmission.

They said: “We found that ocular fluids from SARS-CoV-2-infected patients may contain infectious virus, and hence may be a potential source of infection.

“These findings highlight the importance of control measures, such as avoiding touching the nose, mouth, and eyes and frequent hand washing.”

In light of the findings, the researchers suggest “measures to prevent transmission via this route must be implemented as early as possible.”

What should I do if I spot mild symptoms?

According to the NHS, you must self-isolate for seven days if you spot the mild symptoms.

If your housemate shows mild symptoms, you must self-isolate for 14 days from the moment they first appear.

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