Asymptomatic coronavirus patients, or patients who contracted the Covid-19 virus without exhibiting any symptoms, are not likely to spread the virus as easily as someone who would be showing symptoms, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which made an official statement this past Monday.
According to experts, we already knew that young people or adults who are considered to be very healthy were the least likely to show any symptoms if they were to contract Covid-19. Others may not develop symptoms until days after they get infected (up to 14 days). As we know, and have seen, this virus spreads very easily, and quickly, from person-to-person contact. Even if an individual wasn’t exhibiting symptoms, health experts still believed they could transfer the virus to another individual, because that infected person could just be in their 14 incubation period before symptoms actually appear.
Now, WHO isn’t as convinced that individuals who don’t exhibit any symptoms can spread the virus; but it’s important to note that this does not mean you should start taking the pandemic any less seriously if you haven’t exhibited any Covid-19 symptoms within the past few months, if anything, it means the opposite.
“From the data we have, it still seems to be rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits onward to a secondary individual. It’s very rare,” Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, said.
Again, WHO doesn’t want the world to start taking the severity of this virus any less seriously, instead, they made this announcement as a means to shift the focus of some health experts throughout the nation. They’re urging government officials to prioritize their responses on detecting and isolating infected people exhibiting clear Covid-19 symptoms, this way, experts can more easily start tracking anyone else who may have come in contact with the infected individual.
From that point forward, individuals who the symptomatic patient has come in contact with can become aware that they may also be infected, but asymptomatic, and while they may not be able to spread the virus as easily, they should self-quarantine for at least 14 days to ensure that no symptoms end up appearing.
Van Kerkhove also emphasized that asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic spread of the virus has been the main cause of outbreaks in America’s nursing homes, however, as we know individuals in nursing homes are more likely to be infected simply due to their age and any pre-existing conditions they may have.
“More research and data are needed to truly answer” the question of whether the coronavirus can spread widely through asymptomatic carriers. We have a number of reports from countries who are doing very detailed contact tracing. They’re following asymptomatic cases. They’re following contacts. And they’re not finding secondary transmission onward. It’s very rare,” Van Kerkhove added.
Again, this claim doesn’t change the severity of the pandemic, but instead will shift the way the US handles it moving forward. The findings themselves could suggest that in order to control the virus, we shift our focus onto those with symptoms, while continuing to emphasize that seemingly healthy individuals should also stay home.
As new developments continue to be made everyday there’s one fact that’s held completely true; this virus is very unpredictable, so continue to listen to your health experts, wash your hands consistently, practice social distancing if you need to go out, and continue to remain in lockdown for as long as you can.
Eric Mastrota is a Contributing Editor at The National Digest based in New York. A graduate of SUNY New Paltz, he reports on world news, culture, and lifestyle. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.