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(CNN) – The leading US physician for infectious diseases, Anthony Fauci, reported that a new study published on Thursday night shows that people can transmit Wuhan’s coronavirus even before symptoms appear.
German researchers discovered that the virus was spread by individuals who had no symptoms in five instances of a group of people: from a father to his daughter; from that daughter to two colleagues; and from one of them colleagues to two other coworkers.RELATED
“There is no doubt after reading this study that an asymptomatic transmission is occurring,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “This study puts an end to the question about it,” he completed.
For almost a week, US health officials They have debated whether someone can transmit the virus during the incubation period, when the person is infected but not yet sick. The Chinese health minister had indicated that the coronavirus could be infected asymptomatically, but the US authorities had doubts because the Chinese offered no evidence.
The issue is crucial, because when an asymptomatic transmission occurs, officials sometimes need to implement more dramatic control measures, such as stricter quarantines.
Wuhan’s coronavirus, which was first identified in China last December, has killed more than 250 people and infected more than 11,700 in more than a dozen countries around the world.
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In the study, published Thursday in the New England Journal of Medicine, German researchers recorded that four business partners were infected by asymptomatic transmission.
“They were together in workshops, they went to the company’s cafeteria together,” Dr. Camilla Rothe, an infectious disease specialist and lead author of the article, told CNN.
The contagion chain
The contagion chain began on January 16 when a woman in Shanghai received her parents during a weekend visit, Rothe said.
His parents came from Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. They were healthy during their daughter’s visit, but then they were diagnosed with the virus.
Three days later, on January 19, the woman left Shanghai and flew to Germany. On Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday he held a series of workshops with employees of an auto parts supply company on the outskirts of Munich. In those workshops she was also healthy, showing no signs of the disease, according to the New England Journal report.
On January 22, the woman flew back to China and became ill on the plane.
He was diagnosed with the virus and alerted the company, but by then it was too late.
On January 24, two days after the Shanghai woman flew home, two of the German employees who had attended her workshops became ill, the study added.
Neither was very sick, Rothe said.
The first man, 33 years old, otherwise healthy, developed a fever and felt sick for a few days.
“He stayed in bed over the weekend, but on Monday he felt good,” Rothe said.
The second had a “mild sore throat and a minimal cough,” Rothe said. “It was clinically ordinary,” he added.
Then, on January 26, almost a week after the Shanghai woman infected these two men in the workshops, two more employees became ill.These employees had not attended the workshops. But they did spend time with the first German patient before he showed any symptoms.
Those two patients were also mildly ill with some sore throat and cough.
Subsequently, the four employees tested positive for Wuhan’s coronavirus. They stayed in a hospital not because they were sick, but to contain the spread of the virus.
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Webasto, a German car supply company, published a press release on its website about infections.
The company temporarily closed its facilities in Stockdorf, Germany, and canceled business trips to China for at least the next two weeks.
U.S. authorities doubted that asymptomatic transmission was possible
The German study represents the first time scientific evidence available to the public has shown that Wuhan’s coronavirus can spread before someone develops symptoms.
This Sunday, China’s health minister, Ma Xiaowei, said at a press conference that it had been discovered that people could spread the virus even if they had no symptoms. Two days later, a Chinese doctor repeated this at a press conference.
However, US officials were not so sure, since the Chinese did not offer data to support such claims.
This Wednesday, when a reporter at a press conference asked about the statements of Chinese officials, a doctor from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (CDC) expressed doubts.
“We do not know that. We have heard a Chinese health official say that, but we don’t know if that is the case, ”said Dr. Christopher Braden, deputy director of the National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases.
Quarantine in the US It is significantly shorter than in other countries
In that same press conference on Wednesday, Braden and other US health officials. They announced that a plane with Americans who had just arrived from Wuhan at the March Air Reserve Base in California, would stay in place for three days for further tests and evaluations.
Other countries, such as France, Australia and Germany, have quarantined passengers returning from Wuhan, but for 14 days.
Israel has gone further and ordered all passengers flying from mainland China, not just from Wuhan, to quarantine their homes for two weeks.
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Dr. William Schaffner, a long-standing CDC advisor, said the agency could consider extending that quarantine time to three days.
“When you see what other countries are doing, and now with this demonstration of asymptomatic transmission, you have to reevaluate this,” said Schaffner, an infectious disease specialist at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
This Thursday, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases at the CDC, acknowledged that the test for this virus could be negative if someone is infected but still has no symptoms.
“Is it possible to detect this virus before someone has symptoms? And the answer is that we still don’t know and we are looking closely to see if we can, ”he said.
Fauci, the leading US physician for infectious diseases, said it could take a period after infection for the test to be reliable.
“There is still a lot we don’t know about this virus,” he completed.