The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on Monday said that 80 percent of all coronavirus patients in the country showed only mild symptoms of the disease or were completely asymptomatic. The Ministry emphasised on the need to follow lockdown rules and maintain social distancing even within a household to curb the spread of coronavirus.
The Health Ministry and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) were responding to the concern that asymptomatic coronavirus cases were silent carriers of the virus. The ICMR and the ministry said that while it was not possible to test everyone, enough arrangements and protocols have been established to test highly suspected asymptomatic people who have a travel history or had come in close contact with confirmed patients. The testing protocol also covers patients with severe acute respiratory illness.
"On the basis of worldwide analysis, 80% of coronavirus patients are asymptomatic or show mild symptoms. Around 15% turn into severe cases and 5% turn into critical cases," health ministry joint secretary Lav Agarwal said. Pointing to a varied testing protocol that includes scrutinising low prevalence areas, the government said that the chances of there being a large group of undetected asymptomatic people who do not need medical attention are extremely slim.
However, Dr RR Gangakhedkhar, head of epidemiology and communicable diseases at ICMR, expressed the limitations of the varied testing protocols. He pointed out that the chances of RT-PCR tests coming positive are higher when the patients already have symptoms of the coronavirus.
He said in a TV interview earlier, "We are equally worried about asymptomatic persons who are around and maybe spreading the infection but we must understand that science has not progressed that far where you can detect such asymptomatic cases cost-effectively through simpler tests." Gangakhedkar said that asymptomatic patients as coronavirus carriers is a point of worry for the government, it should try and limit the speed at which the virus spreads through such individuals.