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Coronavirus: WHO clarifies remark on asymptomatic spread, calls it 'misunderstanding'

Van Kerkhove's remarks on Monday raised confusion and questions among outside experts and health officials who have recommended and in some places required that people wear masks to try to prevent the virus from spreading

twitter-logoAssociated Press | June 10, 2020 | Updated 11:44 IST
Coronavirus: WHO clarifies remark on asymptomatic spread, calls it 'misunderstanding'

A top World Health Organization expert has tried to clear up "misunderstandings" about comments she made that were widely understood to suggest that people without COVID-19 symptoms rarely transmit the coronnoavirus. Maria Van Kerkhove, the U.N. health agency's technical lead on the virus pandemic, insisted Tuesday that she was referring only to a few studies, not a complete picture, in the comments she made Monday.

Van Kerkhove's remarks on Monday raised confusion and questions among outside experts and health officials who have recommended and in some places required that people wear masks to try to prevent the virus from spreading. The clarification she provided during a WHO social-media chat showed many questions remain about whether infected people who don't show symptoms of illness such as fever, dry cough or difficulty breathing can transmit the virus to others.

Van Kerkhove said: What I was referring to yesterday were very few studies, some two or three studies that have been published, that actually try to follow asymptomatic cases. That's a very small subset of studies, she continued. I used the phrase 'very rare,' and I think that that's (a) misunderstanding to state that asymptomatic transmission globally is very rare. What I was referring to was a subset of studies.

Also read: WHO urges countries not to drop guard as COVID-19 pandemic still growing

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