You could be spreading coronavirus without realising you have it
Claim: COVID-19 can only be transmitted through people who are showing symptoms.
Fact: Those who contract the virus can also infect others while showing no symptoms themselves.
On March 1st, the US Secretary of Health and Human Services, Alex Azer said on ABC News that asymptomatic spread is not a major driver of the novel coronavirus. He further underscored that we must focus on individuals who show clear symptoms. This statement reflects public attitudes towards the novel coronavirus as people are unwilling to take the spread of the virus seriously unless someone shows obvious symptoms.
In Pakistan, some people are not abiding by the guidelines government officials and the World Health Organisation have put in place as many believe COVID-19 cannot be transmitted unless has obvious signs of the virus, such as a fever or a cough.
In a tweet on March 15, Senator Murtaza Wahab, current Adviser to Chief Minister of Sindh on Law, Anti-Corruption Establishment, and information, lamented the public’s unwillingness to take precautionary measures with respect to with-holding gatherings. He shared a screenshot of a Social Media post by someone looking to rent a space to hold an event with 100-150 people, saying that it puts everyone at risk. He further said that “anyone can be a carrier of the coronavirus”
In a Press Conference on March 16, the Chief Minister once again underscored the importance of self-quarantine saying that a negative test result doesn’t necessarily mean that one does not have the virus. He said that “someone could have it [COVID-19] and show no symptoms at all and become fine themselves” further explaining that it depends on one’s immune system how they react to being infected. However, he also highlighted that an asymptomatic person can spread it to others so it is not necessary for someone to have visible symptoms to be able to transmit the virus. He also said that some people can treat the virus themselves at home with consultation from their doctors but the important thing is that everyone self-isolates.
Furthermore, a Research Letter by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that investigates the modes of COVID-19 virus transmission of patients associated with a shopping mall in Wenzhou, China also claims that the virus can be transmitted through an asymptomatic carrier.
The letter states, “Asymptomatic carrier transmission has been reported for SARS-CoV-2 (2); hence, patient A could have been screened as a close contact during her incubation period and then hospitalized on the basis of a positive test (PCR) result only. However, her clinical symptoms did not appear until after hospitalization. Because persons with asymptomatic COVID-19 can spread the virus, patient A also could have been an asymptomatic carrier with a persistent infection (3).”
Summary: COVID-19 does not just spread through people who are symptomatic, it is also transmitted through asymptomatic recipients.