Spread Of Coronavirus By Asymptomatic People is Rare, Says WHO

Spread Of Coronavirus By Asymptomatic People is Rare, Says WHO

Published09 Jun 2020, 07:43 AM IST
2 min read

The extent of the spread of COVID-19 by someone who is not showing any symptoms seems to be rare, said Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organisation's technical lead for coronavirus response and head of the emerging diseases and zoonoses, during a media briefing in Geneva on Monday.

It appears to be occasional that an asymptomatic person transmits to another individual.

The WHO technical lead stated that they have several reports from the countries doing very detailed contact-based tracing. The countries have been following cases with no or mild symptoms.

"It's odd how much of it isn't published in the literature," she said.

“We are constantly looking at this data and we’re trying to get more information from countries to truly answer this question. It still appears to be rare that an asymptomatic individual transmits onward.”

Van Kerkhove went on to explain how the novel coronavirus, a respiratory pathogen, passes on via droplets while coughing or sneezing.

“If we followed all of the symptomatic cases, isolated those cases, followed the contacts and quarantined those cases, we would drastically reduce -- I would love to be able to give a proportion of how much transmission we would stop -- but it would be a drastic reduction in transmission.”

She said many people who were thought to be asymptomatic to COVID-19 turned out to have cases of mild disease. There may be someone who doesn't have a fever yet, a notable cough or shortness of breath. Having said that, there are possibilities of having cases with no symptoms at all.

Pre-symptomatic points to the initial stages of an illness before symptoms have developed. Whereas asymptomatic means having no symptoms throughout the infection -- a distinction that Van Kerkhove hinted at throughout Monday's media briefing.

In India, nearly 66% of cases were thought to be asymptomatic. In an earlier interview with FIT, Dr Sumit Ray explained the difference between asymptomatic and presymptomatic patients and if that works to India's advantage.

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