The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) made an alarming announcement on April 21, 2020.
While the COVID-19 positive cases are growing with each passing, ICMR says 69 percent of the COVID-19 positive cases till date are ‘asymptomatic’.
Only, 31 percent of them reported some symptom for coronavirus, thus representing the 1:2 ratio.
So far, around 4 lakh samples have been tested for corona-positive in India and 18,601 reported positive.
“I am now saying for the first time that if we look at the number of tests done, so far only 31 percent belong to the symptomatic category and the rest 69 percent would fall under asymptomatic…we can say for every single case detected there would be at least two cases that may be termed as asymptomatic,” says Dr RR Gangakhedkar, Head for Epidemiology and Communicable Diseases, ICMR.
The Health Ministry said they are considering ‘mild’ and ‘very mild’ symptoms and making efforts to trace such cases through community surveillance.
According to Luv Agarwal, Joint Health Secretary, WHO has recommended three phases, namely asymptomatic, pre-symptomatic and symptomatic.
Of these, pre-symptomatic cases are often considered symptomatic in case of mild symptoms.
“We are working with pre-emptive approach when working on community surveillance. If we find a so-called asymptomatic case in a field with high risk or direct contact, then we collect even that sample for testing. In that case, when a person has even mild symptom, the test is positive. This way we can timely identify and reduce mortality,” says Agarwal.
According to officials, there could be many asymptomatic persons unaware of carrying the virus.
However, there is no significant scale in such cases to note the threat of undetected transmission.
If that was the case, there would be more number of positive cases requiring medical attention.
The officials also informed that the testing strategy is not static and would be modified as per the situation.
The officials further explained that pre-symptomatic period is like a maturing period for COVID-19 between transforming from exposure into infection and symptom onset.
This transition period may be in the range of 6-14 days, during which the infected can spread the virus.
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