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: January 27, 2021 - 12:27pm

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

January 27, 2021 - 12:27pm

Hong Kong has begun using "ambush lockdowns" to suddenly close off and test everyone inside neighbourhoods where coronavirus cases have spiked, as a spate of recent outbreaks lay bare the rampant inequality in the wealthy Chinese finance hub.

Police cordoned off a row of densely packed tenement buildings in the Yau Ma Tei area overnight on Tuesday through to Wednesday morning to conduct mandatory tests.

The new tactic involves authorities giving no warning of an impending lockdown.

City leader Carrie Lam said such "ambush style" lockdowns were needed to ensure people did not flee before testers move in.

"I thank residents in the restricted area for their cooperation," she wrote on her Facebook page Wednesday as the lockdown was lifted. —AFP

January 26, 2021 - 1:07pm

Mexico's coronavirus death toll has surpassed 150,000, the government says, a day after President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador announced he had Covid-19.

The health ministry reports 659 more deaths in its daily update, taking the total to 150,273, behind only the United States, Brazil and India.

The overall number of infections registered now stands at more than 1.77 million in the nation of around 128 million, an increase of 8,521 from the previous day. — AFP

January 26, 2021 - 11:41am

Thousands of Australians defy coronavirus rules to protest the country's national day, held on the anniversary of British colonization of the vast continent that its Indigenous population brands "Invasion Day".

Officially recognized as Australia Day, January 26 also sees annual rallies drawing attention to the injustices faced by Indigenous people and calling on the government to change the date of the national holiday.

The celebration of the origins of the modern nation is a time of mourning for Indigenous Australians, who have inhabited the land for 65,000 years and view the arrival of British settlers in 1788 as the beginning of two centuries of pain and suffering.

Thousands of people gathered at a central Sydney park in defiance of police threats of fines and arrests for breaching a 500-person limit on gathering in public places, though organizers called off a march through the city that usually follows. — AFP

January 26, 2021 - 7:38am

The Netherlands was hit by a second wave of riots Monday evening, as protesters again went on the rampage in several cities following the introduction of a coronavirus curfew over the weekend.

Riot police clashed with groups of protesters in Amsterdam as well as the port city of Rotterdam, where people smashed shop windows and ransacked their supplies.  

The unrest also hit Amersfoort in the east, the small southern city of Geleen near Maastricht, The Hague and Den Bosch, police and news reports said.

More than 70 people had been rounded up by 2200 GMT, public newscaster NOS reported.

Geleen police said in an earlier tweet that they were dealing with "rioting youths who are throwing fireworks". — AFP

January 25, 2021 - 2:17pm

New Zealand's first case of coronavirus in the community for more than two months has been identified as the more contagious South African variant, prompting Australia to suspend quarantine-free travel from the neighbouring country for at least 72 hours.

A 56-year-old New Zealander, who recently returned from Europe, tested positive on Saturday to the infectious strain, 10 days after she completed her compulsory two weeks in isolation.

New Zealand has been widely praised for its handling of the pandemic, with just 25 deaths from 1,927 confirmed virus cases in a population of five million. —  AFP

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