Asymptomatic coronavirus cases are one of the biggest concerns now as officials worry about a second or even third wave of COVID-19. More and more studies are showing that people who have been infected with the coronavirus are contagious days before they even show any symptoms.
Data from the National Health Commission in China reveals that on Sunday, there were 78 new asymptomatic cases of the coronavirus. That’s an increase from 47 asymptomatic cases the day before.
It’s also important to note that China doesn’t include asymptomatic coronavirus cases in its official tally of infections. However, Chinese officials did say that 705 asymptomatic patients were under observation in mainland China. They only just started reporting asymptomatic cases last week.
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Hubei province, the epicenter of the original outbreak, made up nearly half of the new asymptomatic coronavirus cases. This is a major concern amid fears about a second wave of the coronavirus. Wuhan, where the outbreak originally started, just began allowing people to leave the city today. It’s the first time people are allowed to leave Wuhan since the pandemic started in January.
According to Xinhua, authorities in Wuhan revoked the “epidemic-free” status of 45 residential buildings because residents were found to be asymptomatic cases of the coronavirus.
As the pandemic has developed, more and more studies have focused on asymptomatic cases of the coronavirus. ProPublica collected a number of studies about asymptomatic coronavirus cases. CNN reports that Iceland has tested about 5% of its population so far. A company that did about 9,000 of those tests told the news outlet that about half of positive coronavirus cases are asymptomatic.
The Wall Street Journal reported that seven of 14 NBA players, coaches and staff who tested positive for COVID-19 were asymptomatic, which backs up Iceland’s findings. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention published a case study from a nursing home in Washington State where 13 of the 23 residents who tested positive for the virus didn’t have any symptoms at first.
Concerns about a second wave of the coronavirus caused by asymptomatic cases are increased further when it’s revealed just how easily such patients can spread it to others. ProPublica reports that the amount of virus given off by an infected person’s cells could be the highest during the first few days of the infection, when they have little to no symptoms.
Hard to predict
According to NBC, the World Health Organization said patients who test positive for COVID-19 can spread the disease one to three days before they even start to show symptoms. The agency also said their models of the pandemic indicate that there are “large numbers of unrecognized transmission.”
Because of these findings, it’s difficult to know when the COVID-19 pandemic will be over. A second wave of the coronavirus seems like a guarantee as soon as the lockdowns are lifted. China will represent a case study on how lifting restrictions goes as far as a second wave of the coronavirus. However, the country has apparently not been totally honest about the number of cases and deaths it has. Thus, we may not get the full picture of what will happen when those restrictions are lifted until other countries do it.