Social Distancing is the only medicine to fight Corona
Researchers say that SARS-CoV-2’s rapid spread is likely due to the movements of people with no or very mild symptoms — namely, those who are unaware that they even have the virus. That is why social distancing is such an important containment measure.
The rapid spread of the new coronavirus may largely be due to asymptomatic or very mild cases of infection.
One of the main questions on scientists’ and public health advisors’ minds at this time is: Why is the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, spreading so quickly in countries around the globe?
And why is this happening despite the ever-increasing volume of travel bans and restrictions?
More and more researchers are getting behind the hypothesis that this is likely due to the movement of people who are unaware of the fact that they have contracted the virus — either because they had mild symptoms or because they had no symptoms at all.
In a new preliminary study, Prof. Chaolong Wang and colleagues — from Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, China — argue that during the aggressive outbreak in their city, over 50% of cases were non-confirmed, and that these may have included people with no or limited symptoms who had the potential to remain socially active.
The study has not yet appeared in a peer reviewed journal, but it is currently available online.
Asymptomatic cases may transmit the virus
In the new study, the researchers developed a method capable of predicting virus transmission patterns. It took into account population movement, non-confirmed cases, and those in quarantine.
The estimates also took into account 25,961 confirmed COVID-19 cases that Chinese officials had recorded through February 18, 2020 in the Hubei province.
However, the researchers calculate that the real number of COVID-19 cases by that date was actually closer to 36,798.
This could explain the virus’s aggressive spread in the region. Many people, the researchers suggest, must have contracted the virus but remained unaware of it. They therefore continued to maintain social contact.
“By our most conservative estimate, at least 59% of the infected individuals were out and about, without being tested and potentially infecting others,” says lead study author Prof. Wu Tangchun.
“This may explain why the virus spread so quickly in Hubei and is now circulating around the world,” he adds.
The researchers also suggest that upward of 90% of infections were prevented in the time period after officials brought in social distancing interventions.