Emergency doctor: You can be asymptomatic and still spread coronavirus

Coronavirus
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PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — The World Health Organization (WHO) stated that while people not experiencing COVID-19 symptoms can spread the coronavirus, it’s very rare, but later backtracked after the country’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said: “that’s simply not correct.”

In the meantime, the rate of hospitalizations and intensive care has been declining in Rhode Island, but local doctors say that doesn’t mean we should ease up on preventing the spread.

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“I know it’s a hassle, I know everyone wants to be back out and resuming life as normal, but we are not there yet,” Dr. Laura Forman said. “We just last week hit our highest recorded number of cases in one day — 100,000 worldwide. We are nowhere near the end of this, unfortunately.”

Dr. Forman, the chief of emergency medicine at Kent Hospital, called the WHO statements regarding asymptomatic spread “confusing.”

“This has caused a lot of concern among the scientific community,” she said. “What the World Health Organization is saying doesn’t square with a lot of the research that’s out there. There was a large study out of China showing people who were asymptomatic patients were transmitting the disease.”

Dr. Forman said another issue with the WHO’s statement is that many people may think they’re asymptomatic when in reality they’re not. She said they could confuse mild symptoms with allergies or a cold, or the virus just hasn’t hit the symptomatic stage in their bodies yet.

“You may feel absolutely fine today, for two weeks, and then you might start to show symptoms,” she explained. “That pre-symptomatic state is highly contagious.”

“Some people with the infection have very, very mild symptoms, so they’re not asymptomatic and they are spreading the virus,” Dr. Forman continued. “Every day you should be behaving as if you have the coronavirus.”

On Monday, Gov. Gina Raimondo announced plans to expand testing to include people not showing symptoms, with a goal of testing 900 per day.

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