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Asymptomatic patients big worry, social distancing essential: Experts

New Delhi

20-April-2020

With the Health Ministry saying that 80 per cent of the Covid-19 cases are either asymptomatic or with mild symptoms, health experts on Monday said lockdown and social distancing are the only way to prevent transmission from asymptomatic cases in a populous country like Indian with limited testing capacity.

According to Dr Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the US, as many as 25 per cent of people infected with the new coronavirus remain asymptomatic.

In a recent interview with NPR, Redfield said: "That's important, because now you have individuals that may not have any symptoms that can contribute to transmission".

According to Dr Neha Gupta, Consultant, Infectious Disease, Fortis Memorial Research Institute, Gurugram, 25-50 per cent patients do not have any symptoms as per CDC and Iceland data, and are contagious.

"That's why lockdown is even more essential to prevent transmission from these likely to be missed out asymptomatic cases when the population is large and testing capacity is limited,' Dr Gupta told IANS.

"Lockdown restrictions can be eased out in areas where no COVID 19 is documented in the last 14 days as most cases take this to recover. But the incubation period can be as long as 27 days and 2.5 per cent of the COVID-19 can develop infections beyond the 14-day incubation period," she informed.

India is currently under an extended lockdown till May 3. Telangana has even extended it further, to May 7.

Dr Yugal Kishore Mishra, Head of Cardiac Sciences and Chief of Clinical Services Officer at Manipal Hospitals, Dwarka said that the surge of COVID-19 patients with asymptomatic or mild symptoms poses yet another challenge in combating this pandemic.

"Given India's economic condition and heavy dependence on unorganised sectors, it is a fact that we need to exit from Lockdown in a phased manner. With a large number of asymptomatic cases, there would certainly be a threat of its further spread, however, with adequate testing, quarantine and treatment facilities, India can handle the situation well compared to other countries," Mishra elaborated.

However, people will have to follow guidelines such as wearing masks, gloves, use of sanitizers, maintain good hygiene by washing hands frequently and thoroughly.

"Social distancing would remain the main safeguard against COVID-19. Hence, if lockdown is lifted in a staggered way, we can contain even second wave efficiently and effectively with preventive and curative measures," he added. IANS