Asymptomatic coronavirus carriers have high viral loads: study
This undated handout image obtained July 28, 2020, courtesy of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases(NIH/NIAID), shows a colorized scanning electron micrograph of a cell (blue) heavily infected with SARS-CoV-2 virus particles (red), isolated from a patient sample.
AFP/US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases
Asymptomatic coronavirus carriers have high viral loads: study
(Agence France-Presse) - August 7, 2020 - 7:46am

WASHINGTON, United States — People who are infected with the coronavirus carry similar levels of the pathogen in their nose, throat and lungs whether they have symptoms or not, a new study from South Korea showed Thursday.

The paper, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, is an important biological line of evidence in support of the idea that asymptomatic carriers can spread COVID-19.

Until now, experts have relied on inferring asymptomatic spread when people contract the virus without contact with a known carrier.

A team of researchers led by Seungjae Lee at Soonchunhyang University College of Medicine analyzed swabs taken between March 6 and March 26 from 303 people isolated at a center in Cheonan, following an outbreak among a religious group in another city.

The group ranged in age from 22 to 36 and two-thirds were women. Of the total, 193 were symptomatic and 110 were asymptomatic.

Among those who were initially asymptomatic, 89 never developed symptoms at all -- about 30 percent of the total.

This finding itself helps gives a sense of what portion of infected people are truly asymptomatic rather than merely "presymptomatic," a subject of confusion.

All were sampled at regular intervals after day eight of isolation, and the samples returned comparable values of the virus' genetic material from the upper and lower airways.

The median time taken for the patients to return negative tests was marginally less for asymptomatic patients compared with symptomatic: 17 and 19.5 days, respectively.

The authors wrote their findings "offer biological plausibility" to reports of asymptomatic transmission.

But they added that their study only looked at the amount of viral genetic material present and did not attempt to follow the subjects to see if that translated to the spread of infectious virus.

ASYMPTOMATIC NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: September 22, 2020 - 7:22am

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

September 22, 2020 - 7:22am

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 961,531 people since the outbreak emerged in China late last year, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1100 GMT on Monday.

At least 31,110,400 cases of coronavirus have been registered. Of these, at least 21,082,500 are now considered recovered.

The tallies, using data collected by AFP from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections. — AFP

September 21, 2020 - 6:42pm

A Chinese primetime TV drama about the coronavirus pandemic has been slammed by social media users, who accused it of sexism for downplaying the role of women in battling the deadly outbreak at ground-zero.

China has largely brought the virus under control since it first emerged late last year, though Beijing has rushed to reshape the official narrative following criticism that it mishandled its initial response and punished whistleblowers.

But the new show, "Heroes in Harm's Way" — first aired by state broadcaster CCTV on Thursday — has triggered a fierce online backlash for its depiction of women in the virus battle.

One controversial scene set in the virus ground-zero city of Wuhan showed female bus drivers being reluctant to volunteer for a delivery team due to family commitments — while their male colleagues did not hesitate.

Users on the Twitter-like platform Weibo re-posted state media news reports praising real-life female bus drivers and volunteers, and argued women had been vital in transporting supplies and medical staff around the locked-down city.

"Women have made such a huge contribution to (fight) the epidemic... The pandemic is still not over, but they rushed to smear (women)," read one comment with over 15,000 likes. — AFP

September 21, 2020 - 5:40pm

Irish pubs reopened after a six-month shutdown on Monday but many in the capital, Dublin, remained under heightened coronavirus restrictions because of a surge of infections.

All of Ireland's 7,000 pubs were shut by government order on March 16 — the eve of the national St Patrick's Day celebrations — as the country was shut down.

On June 29, those serving food were permitted to reopen, but so-called "wet pubs" providing drinks only stayed shut.

Last week the government confirmed that while all pubs nationwide were permitted to open on Monday, Dublin's drinking-only establishments would remain shuttered. — AFP

September 21, 2020 - 2:53pm

UK unveils overhaul of virus-hit privatized rail sector — AFP

September 21, 2020 - 7:52am

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 957,948 people since the outbreak emerged in China last December, according to a tally from official sources compiled by AFP at 1100 GMT on Sunday.

At least 30,849,800 cases of coronavirus have been registered. Of these, at least 20,871,300 are now considered to have recovered.

The tallies, using data collected by AFP from national authorities and information from the World Health Organization (WHO), probably reflect only a fraction of the actual number of infections. — AFP

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