08 April 2020
New Delhi: The Union Health Ministry on Wednesday said asymptomatic people as carriers of infection is one of the biggest challenges to contain the spread of coronavirus.
An asymptomatic person does not show symptoms, but can still pass the virus to others. "We are actually dealing with a very huge challenge along with the rest of the world. In this particular infectious disease, not only people who are symptomatic, but even asymptomatic persons as a carrier may pass on the infection", said Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary, Union Health Ministry.
He said people should focus on social distancing measures. We are looking for a major behavioural change in our approach", said Agarwal.
The Health Ministry was responding to a situation in which a patient had gone to a hospital for some other disease, got in touch with medical professionals and healthcare staff and ended up infecting them with COVID-19. Later, it was realized that the patient was a carrier of the coronavirus infection.
Reportedly, the virus can also be asymptomatic, causing no noticeable illness in some people. It was first recognised in China in January when it was not known what the trend was.
According to researchers, people with mild or no symptoms can have a very high viral load in their upper respiratory tract. This means these persons can shed the virus through spitting, touching their mouths or noses and then a surface, or possibly talking. People who don't feel ill end up coughing or sneezing occasionally.
Elaborating on the effectiveness of the lockdown measures, Agarwal said the government has adopted a twin approach -- focussing on lockdown and social distancing, and containment measures - which led to day-to-day fluctuation in the number of coronavirus cases.
He insisted that in the fight against an infectious disease, it is an everyday battle, and for this, the government has strengthened the process of surveillance and contact tracing, and also focused on improving the infrastructure of hospitals.
"We are working to improve the infrastructure of hospitals at the field level", said Agarwal.