Covid-19's asymptomatic spread uncommon for virus, not good, says Health DG

PETALING JAYA: The asymptomatic spread of Covid-19 is not a good sign, says Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah (pic).

"Asymptomatic spread has not been good news thus far.

"A growing body of results shows that people who are asymptomatic appear to have the same viral load as symptomatic cases.

"This means that whether people have symptoms or not, they carry the same amount of virus inside them.

"This suggests that transmission is possible equally from both asymptomatic patients and noticeably sick patients," Dr Hisham said on his Facebook post on early Friday (May 15).

He was citing an article by Gigi Gronvall, an immunologist and senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and an associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

Gronvall, in the article, had cited the case of Iceland, where a broad testing effort resulted in 5% of the country's population being tested for Covid-19, with a lab study suggesting that as many as 50% of people who had the disease showed no symptoms.

He noted that a study conducted in Singapore also showed this.

Gronvall added that because of the asymptomatic spread of the virus, a lot more testing had to be done and public health officials had to actively look for cases.

He said people would have to lead an altered way of life until there was a vaccine.

Dr Hisham said asymptomatic spread meant transmission would be more widespread.

"If you're able to transmit the virus while asymptomatic, it allows for a lot more community spread. It seems that Covid-19 is proving much harder to contain," Dr Hisham said, quoting Gronvall's article.

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