A former coronavirus patient has tested positive 10 days after being allowed to leave the hospital and go home, sparking fears that recovered sufferers may still carry the lethal virus.
State media said the person was discharged from a hospital in a Chinese city earlier this month and then went into self-quarantine straight away.
Experts suspected that doctors had not given the patient accurate virus tests before declaring his recovery.
A former coronavirus patient has tested positive 10 days after being allowed to leave the hospital and go home, sparking fears that recovered sufferers may still carry the lethal virus. Pictured, a patient is discharged from Leishenshan Hospital in Wuhan on February 18
Experts suspected that doctors had not given the patient appropriate virus tests. The picture shows a medic records a patient's condition at Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan on February 16
The individual, who remains unidentified, lives in Chengdu in south-western China's Sichuan Province, according to People's Daily.
Community officials claimed that the person and their family members had been in isolation since the person's recovery.
The family had not left their home until February 19 when they were taken to a medical centre for tests.
Surprisingly, results came back positive for the former patient.
Officials took the patient and their family members to the Public health Clinical Center of Chengdu to be quarantined on the same day.
The news sparked panic on Chinese social media. Some users feared that there were many more cases like this; while others urged the hospitals to raise their standard of testing.
On Twitter-like Weibo, one person wrote: 'This news is too scary. There are so many recovered cases, how many more people are in this situation?'
Another netizen commented: 'Based on this case, it is very necessary to keep the recovered patients in quarantine for two weeks. This cannot be taken slightly for avoiding further spread [of the virus].'
Globally, the coronavirus epidemic has killed at least 2,249 people, infected more than 76,700 and spread to at least two dozen countries. A medical worker is pictured treating a patient at an isolation ward at a hospital in south-western China's Chongqing on February 1
Originating in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, the new virus has infected more than 75,400 people inside China and 76,700 globally. In the picture above, a security staff member checks a passenger's temperature at Chongqing Jiangbei International Airport on January 26
A third reader speculated on the possible causes of the case: 'Two possibilities. First, their family members are virus carriers who show no symptoms and they were not detected in previous tests, so the patient was infected again. Second, the patient had a false recovery. The virus did not disappear completely, and then re-appeared.'
One expert said the patient's case was rare but not unheard of.
Dr Lei Xuezhong, the deputy director of the Centre of Infectious Disease at Huaxi Hospital, claimed that the change of the standard of the virus test could be the cause.
Dr Lei speculated that medics took a tissue sample from the patient's upper respiratory tract instead of the lower respiratory system in the hospital.
'As one's illness develops, it is most likely that virus would be detected in the sample from the lower respiratory tract,' Dr Lei told Red Star News.
The novel coronavirus has killed at least 2,249 people and infected more than 76,700 globally
Over 2,200 people have now died from the killer coronavirus rapidly sweeping the world
More than 76,700 patients have been infected, including more than 1,000 outside of China
The expert said that a testing method required all samples to come from patients' lower respiratory tract.
Dr Lei also demanded all recovered patients carry out 14 days of self-isolation and keep daily records of their health condition.
The new virus, known as COVID-19, has infected more than 75,400 people inside China and 76,700 globally.
The Chinese government has locked down tens of millions of people in Hubei Province, where the virus emerged, to prevent the spread of the disease.
Hubei accounts for more than 80 per cent of the confirmed cases and 95 per cent of the deaths worldwide.
Hubei health officials have shifted hundreds of coronavirus patients off the daily toll causing a nationwide outcry. The picture above, taken on February 18, shows an overview of a temporary coronavirus hospital which has been converted from an exhibition center in Wuhan
Ying Yong, the newly appointed Community Party chief of Hubei, today banned the regional health authority from taking out any cases from its daily tally. The picture shows medical workers treat patients in the isolated intensive care units at a hospital in Wuhan on February 6
Meanwhile, Iran has confirmed 13 new cases of the killer virus as well as two new deaths, bringing its total fatalities to four, the highest outside of mainland China.
Italy also announced three new cases of SARS-CoV-2 after a 38-year-old man caught it from a friend, who had recently returned from China and infected his wife and a close friend.
The man is said to be in 'very serious condition' and struggling to breathe in an intensive care unit.
And cases in South Korea have soared, with investigators focusing on a church and hospital in the southern city of Daegu as clusters of infection.
Overnight, health officials from Hubei reported 631 new cases out of a nationwide total of 889 and 115 of the 118 new deaths across China.
Globally, the coronavirus epidemic has killed at least 2,249 people, infected more than 76,700 and spread to at least two dozen countries.