Turk sets unenviable COVID record by testing positive for 14 consecutive months

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ISTANBUL, Feb 14 (Reuters) – When Muzaffer Kayasan first caught COVID-19, he thought he was destined to die as he was already suffering from leukaemia. Fourteen months and 78 consecutive positive tests later, he is still alive – and still fighting to rid himself of the infection.

Kayasan, 56, has the longest continuous COVID-19 infection recorded in Turkey, doctors say, likely due to a weakened immune system from cancer. Although he has been hospitalized and discharged since November 2020, his morale is good.

“I guess it’s the female version of COVID – she’s been obsessed with me,” Kayasan joked last week upon finding out that her latest PCR test was, again, positive.

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Nine months in hospital and five months mostly alone in his apartment have separated him from much of the outside world, including his granddaughter, Azra, who stays in the garden on her visits, talking across the glazed rear door.

“I’ll play with you when I’m healed,” he told her through a mask after giving her a plastic toy phone.

Immunocompromised coronavirus patients are at risk of prolonged severe acute respiratory syndrome infection, according to a study published last year in the New England Journal of Medicine. Another from the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society shows that one in four blood cancer patients do not produce detectable antibodies even after receiving two injections of the vaccine.

Kayasan doctor Serap Simsek Yavuz, a professor of infectious diseases and clinical microbiology at Istanbul University, said it was the longest case they have followed and is being closely monitored. for any risk of mutated variant.

“The case of a patient testing positive for 441 days is not something that has been reported until today,” said Cagri Buke, a doctor of infectious diseases and clinical microbiology at Acibadem Hospital.

Positive tests make Kayasan ineligible for a vaccine, according to Turkish guidelines which state that positive patients must wait for full recovery to receive an injection. Kayasan, who lost his sense of taste and smell due to the ordeal, called on authorities to at least ease his confinement.

His son, Gokhan Kayasan, said his father had always been a “positive” person – but not in this way.

“We kept saying how positive he was and now the guy has come back positive (for COVID) and can’t come back negative,” he said. “He says he got stuck at a red light and he can’t pass it.”

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Reporting by Yesim Dikmen; Editing by Jonathan Spicer and Nick Macfie

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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