What We Need to Know About Asymptomatic Carriers to Beat COVID-19
Understanding what "asymptomatic" really means
In the early days of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., around the last week of February, I joked to a colleague that maybe now, finally, people would learn how to wash their hands properly. My remark revealed a naive assumption I had at the time, which was that all we needed to do to keep the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) contained was follow a few simple guidelines: stay home when symptomatic and maintain good personal hygiene. The problem, I thought, was that nobody was following the rules.
In the past few weeks, however, more and more reports have emerged to challenge my neat assumptions. Seven out of 14 NBA players, coaches and staff who tested positive didn’t have symptoms when they were diagnosed, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a case study on a nursing facility in King County, Washington, where 23 residents tested positive for COVID-19, and it found that 13 reported no symptoms initially. Sixty singers went to rehearsal and followed all the rules, according to The Los Angeles Times — nobody hugged, shook hands or appeared ill — yet three weeks later, 45 were diagnosed with COVID-19 or had symptoms of the disease; two have died.
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