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Spread of virus from people without symptoms is 'rare': WHO

  • Head of WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit recommended that countries should focus on tracing and isolating symptomatic people.
Updated 09 Jun 2020

Despite concerns expressed by health officials and researchers that the novel coronavirus is spreading from people without symptoms, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said the transmission of the virus by people who are not showing symptoms is very rare.

Addressing a briefing, Maria Van Kerkhove, head of WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit said based on detailed reports of contact tracing from various countries, it is 'rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits onward to a secondary individual'.

She further said that seemingly asymptomatic carriers just did not recognize the signs of the virus. She added that when we actually go back and say, 'How many of them were truly asymptomatic?' we find out that many have really mild disease, very mild disease.

“We have a number of reports from countries who are doing very detailed contact tracing,” she said. “They’re following asymptomatic cases. They’re following contacts. And they’re not finding secondary transmission onward. It’s very rare.”

Kerkhove recommended that countries should focus on tracing and isolating symptomatic people to better attack the outbreak of the virus.

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