Coronavirus: Are people who are asymptomatic still capable of spreading Covid-19?

·3-min read

With the number of coronavirus cases increasing globally each day, health officials are urging people and communities to do what they can to limit the spread of the disease.

One of the most effective methods is to practise social distancing, according to experts, as it limits contact between those who are sick and the rest of the public.

The practice is especially important considering the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has acknowledged that although Covid-19 is a new disease and experts are “still learning how it spreads,” it is believed people who have new coronavirus but are asymptomatic can still spread the virus.

This is what you need to know about having coronavirus and being asymptomatic.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

The most common symptoms of Covid-19 include – fever, tiredness, and dry cough, similar to the flu.

Some people have also experienced symptoms including shortness of breath, tightness in the chest and other aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhoea as a result of the virus.

According to federal health organisations, 80 per cent of people infected with new coronavirus only experience mild symptoms.

Do all people infected with coronavirus have symptoms?

One of the biggest concerns with the virus is that many patients who have tested positive have not displayed symptoms at all.

Can you spread coronavirus even if you don’t have symptoms? When are you the most contagious?

While the findings are preliminary, a new study of nine people who tested positive for the virus in Germany suggests “that people are mainly contagious before they have symptoms and in the first week of the disease,” according to Science News.

Other experts have also come to similar conclusions after reports of asymptomatic people spreading the virus.

“We now know that asymptomatic transmission likely [plays] an important role in spreading this virus," Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told CNN, adding that it is “absolutely clear” that asymptomatic infection “can fuel a pandemic like this in a way that's going to make it very difficult to control".

Previously, it was understood that, although asymptomatic spread of the disease was possible, it was not thought to be “the main way the virus spreads,” according to the CDC.

However, it has since become clear that the risks associated with the spread of coronavirus by individuals who are asymptomatic are higher than originally thought, according to Osterholm.

“At the very beginning of the outbreak, we had many questions about how transmission of this virus occurred,” he told CNN. “And unfortunately, we saw a number of people taking very firm stances about it was happening this way or it wasn't happening this way. And as we have continued to learn how transmission occurs with this outbreak, it is clear that many of those early statements were not correct.”

The latest information regarding the spread of the virus may also contradict the CDC’s belief that people are “thought to be most contagious when they are most symptomatic (the sickest).”

In addition to finding individuals most contagious in their first week of infection, researchers in Germany also found that by day 10, it is likely individuals are no longer at risk of infecting others due to antibodies created by the immune system.

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