In this photo released by Xinhua News Agency, women wearing protective masks to prevent the new coronavirus outbreak walk on a re-opened commercial street in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province on Monday, March 30, 2020. Shopkeepers in the city at the center of China’s virus outbreak were reopening Monday but customers were scarce after authorities lifted more of the anti-virus controls that kept tens of millions of people at home for two months. (Shen Bohan/Xinhua via AP)
According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Dr. Robert Redfield, as many as 1 in 4 people who have the coronavirus won’t experience any symptoms.
This, of course, does the virus a fantastic favor, helping it spread by unknowing carriers.
As reported by the Chicago Tribune, this revelation’s prompted the CDC to reconsider its recommendations of who should be wearing masks.
In an interview broadcast Tuesday, Robert expressed a sensible conclusion:
“This helps explain how rapidly this virus continues to spread across the country.”
Previously, the CDC had said only folks who are feeling sick should mask up.
But given the frequency of people who are infected and’ll never know it — and those who’ll be contagious for a couple days before feeling it — the previous guidelines are “being critically reviewed.”
It certainly makes things more complicated.
The Tribune states:
Researchers do not know precisely how many people are infected without feeling ill or if some of them are simply presymptomatic. But since the new coronavirus surfaced in December, they have spotted unsettling anecdotes of apparently healthy people who were unwitting spreaders.
One such mystery: 26-year-old “Patient Z,” in Guangdong, China. In February, he was infected by a Wuhan traveler. But Z felt fine. On the 7th Day. And the 10th. And the 11th.
However, by Day 7, the coronavirus “had bloomed in his nose and throat, just as copiously as in those who did become ill.”
More from CT:
Researchers now say that people like Patient Z are not merely anecdotes. For example, as many as 18% of people infected with the virus on the Diamond Princess cruise ship never developed symptoms, according to one analysis. A team in Hong Kong suggests that from 20% to 40% of transmissions in China occurred before symptoms appeared.
The high level of covert spread may help explain why the novel coronavirus is the first virus that is not an influenza virus to set off a pandemic.
Some experts have, subsequently, encouraged everyone to wear masks — in the face of CDC and World Heath Organization suggestion.
Back to a presence of symptoms, Columbia University’s Dr. Jeffrey Shaman explains that some people simply “never notice their symptoms, others are unable to distinguish the infection from their smoker’s cough or allergies or other conditions, and still others may feel every pain acutely.”
Georgia State University epidemiologist Dr. Gerardo Chowell notes that “the substantial asymptomatic proportion for COVID-19 is quite alarming.”
And there’s debate as to whether the virus is an aerosol — meaning that tiny droplets may be released by infected people coughing or even exhaling (the WHO doesn’t presently believe Wuhan flu transmission occurs this way).
The bottom line, perhaps, is this — as conveyed by University of Washington in Seattle infectious disease expert Dr. Carl Bergstrom:
“We can’t assume that any of us are not potential vectors at any time. This is why even though I’m feeling great, and have felt great and haven’t been exposed to anybody with any symptoms of anything, that’s why it would be irresponsible of me to go out and about today.”
Maneuvering in the world’s certainly become a confusing endeavor as of late.
Hopefully, we’ll all know more soon — and have more ways to fight our invisible foe.
And in that fight, it seems, we just might be all wearing masks at the grocery store.
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