Even as Covid-19 wreaks havoc across the world, governments are trying to limit the spread of the disease by imposing several lockdowns. However, this continues to remain an arduous task. Against this backdrop, tracing individuals with the disease has become the primary task for all health care institutions across countries. But this is not easy, especially because of several instances of asymptomatic cases.
What is an asymptomatic case?
Individuals who have contracted the Covid-19 virus or any other disease but do not show any of its signs symptoms are called ‘asymptomatic’ cases.
Can asymptomatic individuals transmit the virus?
The World Health Organization (WHO) states that current research made on the novel coronavirus shows evidence that most cases of transmission come from symptomatic individuals, and asymptomatic individuals are much less likely to transmit the virus.
However, the WHO also states that more evidence and research on a larger scale needs to be presented in order to see the actual effect of the role that asymptomatic patients play in the spread of the virus.
What experts say about asymptomatic patients
Maria Van Kerkhove, infectious disease epidemiologist and Covid-19 technical lead at WHO, said in an online session that “while 6-41 per cent of Covid-infected people might not show symptoms, many of them could transmit the disease... In the majority of transmission that we know of, people who have symptoms transmit the virus to other people through infectious droplets,” she said. “But there are a subset of people who don’t develop symptoms, and to truly understand how many people don’t have symptoms, we don’t actually have that answer yet.”
What does ICMR say about asymptomatic patients?
The Indian Council of Medical Research’s (ICMR’s) policy is testing all contacts of a confirmed case, irrespective of whether they are asymptomatic or symptomatic cases. It has asked all testing agencies to follow the same guidelines.