How long can asymptomatic carriers infect others?


How long can asymptomatic carriers infect others?
How long can asymptomatic carriers infect others?
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US believes that people who have been infected with Covid-19 are at their most contagious at the peak of their symptoms. This means that the days people feel their worst ― that may include a cough or a fever ― are when they’re most likely to spread the virus.
  • But that does not mean it is the only time they are contagious. People can ‘shed’ or emit the virus in the incubation period before they show symptoms, which is generally from2 to 14 days after their initial exposure. One recent model found the median incubation period for Covid-19 was 5 days and that 98% of people who develop symptoms after an exposure do so within 11½ days.
  • Research also suggests that Covid-19 patients continue to shed the virus for days after their symptoms clear. In general, individuals who are suspected of having Covid-19 are asked to remain in isolation for at least three days after they have recovered and for at least a week after their symptoms first appeared.
  • Even as more clarity emerges, there’s uncertainty about how many asymptomatic carriers there may be — and how long those carriers pose a risk to others they come into contact with. Just why we should adhere to social distancing measures. If you’re exposed to someone with coronavirus and you get infected, you could spread the virus long before you realise you’re sick (if you even realise it at all). Well, you may not even know you’ve been exposed.
  • The total number of Covid-19 positive cases in India, according to Times of India, has risen to 2,580, with the death toll at 70 and the number of recovered people at 162. The health ministry’s latest figures put the number of confirmed cases at 2,301, deaths at 56 and recovered at 157.
  • Worldwide, the number of Covid-19 cases is over 1.01 million; the death toll stands at 53,160 while 211,775 people have recovered.

The numbers are as of Friday, 12:30 pm IST

A mammoth task at Dharavi
A mammoth task at Dharavi
  • The emergence of Nizamuddin Markaz in Delhi as a hotspot of the coronavirus outbreak has caught the nation’s attention. But even as the states far off as Tamil Nadu record a spurt in cases tracing back to Delhi, Mumbai is faced with a challenge of its own: The city has now recorded three cases linked to Dharavi, one of the most crowded residential areas in the world.
  • A 56-year-old garment seller; a 52-year-old municipal worker residing in Jijamata Nagar, Worli, but working at Dharavi; and a 35-year-old surgeon have tested positive. The garment seller, the first confirmed case, passed away barely 24-hours later on Wednesday. That has added to the challenges as authorities were yet to trace all his contacts. Note: Retracing the events of the past 14 days by the patient is crucial. He had no history of travel abroad or a known record of direct contact with a confirmed patient. Authorities are now piecing together information from family and neighbours; they told Mumbai Mirror that he had recently hosted a few men from a jamaat — it is not yet known if it is the same as Tablighi Jamaat in Delhi — in a flat he owns in the neighbourhood.
  • Another challenge: How to contain and isolate people residing in a densely-populated area as Dharavi — over 800,000 people per square mile (2.5 square km). The silver-lining is the garment seller’s residence at Baliga Nagar falls at the end of Dharavi. This has allowed Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to identify and seal smaller sub-sections of Dharavi. The Slum Rehabilitation Authority project he had lived in has around 300 flats and 90-odd shops. Authorities have now disinfected the area and have quarantined his family and 2,500 odd people residing there. A “Contain Dharavi” operation has been put in place, comprising 300 men and women including labourers, BMC officials, engineers, doctors and the police. Government has also introduced seven new kitchens, in addition to the six existing community kitchens, to provide cooked food for residents, reports The Hindu.
  • And what of the other two cases? The municipal worker is said to have no direct contact with the deceased garment seller. Contact-tracing of the surgeon, who resides along the main road at Dharavi, is also on.
Disinfecting your surroundings
Disinfecting your surroundings
  • First up, the focus should be on ‘high touch’ surfaces — we’re talking doorknobs, tables, sinks, light switches, remote controls, toilets, handles and the like — where lots of hands could be depositing and picking up viruses or other germs. Even if no one in your household is ill, you should still “clean regularly and disinfect daily” as a baseline precautionary measure, says Alexa Mieses, an assistant professor in the department of family medicine at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
  • You probably don’t need to clean your whole house from top to bottom every day, but rather focus on the “high-touch surfaces”, she added. Note: Unlike cleaning, which includes removing dirt and dust with regular household cleaning products, for disinfecting you should use bleach or a cleaner with 70% alcohol. (Bleach and alcohol are the most commonly used disinfectants in the home.)
  • Just how often you should disinfect depends on whether you are in the high-risk category for Covid-19, how many people live in your home, and how often you all share common items and surfaces. Even though there’s no hard and fast rule, you should probably disinfect surfaces every time you have a visitor of any kind, says S. Wesley Long, medical director of diagnostic microbiology at Houston Methodist Hospital. And one should disinfect more frequently if he/she is high-risk or has a family member working outside the home.
  • Now, if someone in your house has Covid-19 symptoms, you will want to disinfect surfaces (with hand gloves, of course) much more frequently — as often as those who aren’t ill might come into contact with them. “If the person with symptoms is well enough, I would encourage them to clean and sanitise their own areas if they are self-isolating as much as they can,” said Long.
Lockdown doubts? Write to us. The Times of India will seek answers from the relevant authorities and feature a select few every day in the newspaper. You can also access the TOI epaper here
Innovation in a time of crisis
Innovation in a time of crisis
  • With the country worried about a shortage of ventilators, some innovative options are emerging. A neurosurgery professor at AIIMS, Delhi, and a robotics scientist have improved upon a low-cost ventilator they had developed earlier (they claimed it was the world’s cheapest) by incorporating a negative ion generator which inactivates the virus.
  • In Nagpur, doctors have developed a tool with which eight patients can be put on one ventilator at the same time. Though ventilator splitters are not new, this one is said to be the first to serve eight patients at a time.
  • The Indian Institute of Science (IISc) has offered 11 technologies that can aid India’s fight against Covid-19. These include drones that can spray disinfectants, a contact-tracing app, split-use ventilators and mobile diagnostic testing labs.
  • To protect health professionals and police, a team from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras has developed a face shield and is distributing it for free.
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Compiled by: Judhajit Basu, Rakesh Rai, Sumil Sudhakaran, Tejeesh N.S. Behl

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