Mbabane: Coronavirus patients without symptoms aren’t driving the spread of the virus, World Health Organization officials said Monday, casting doubt on concerns by some researchers that the disease could be difficult to contain due to asymptomatic infections.
Preliminary evidence from the earliest outbreaks indicated that the virus could spread from person-to-person contact, even if the carrier didn’t have symptoms. But WHO officials now say that while asymptomatic spread can occur, it is not the main way it’s being transmitted.
Speaking during news briefing from the United Nations agency’s Geneva headquarters on Monday, Head of WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, revealed from the data the organization have, it still seems to be rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits onward to a secondary individual.
Van Kerkhove said government responses should focus on detecting and isolating infected people with symptoms, and tracking anyone who might have come into contact with them. She acknowledged that some studies have indicated asymptomatic or presymptomatic spread in nursing homes and in household settings.
Van Kerkhove added that more research and data are needed to “truly answer” the question of whether the coronavirus can spread widely through asymptomatic carriers.
“What we really want to be focused on is following the symptomatic cases,” Van Kerkhove said. “If we actually followed all of the symptomatic cases, isolated those cases, followed the contacts and quarantined those contacts, we would drastically reduce” the outbreak.