WHO takes back comments on asymptomatic coronavirus transmission

Web Desk
June 09, 2020

It was a “misunderstanding” to say the asymptomatic transmission is rare globally, says WHO official

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Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the World Health Organization’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, speaks during a press conference following an emergency committee meeting over the new coronavirus in Geneva on Jan. 22, 2020. — AFP/Files

A top World Health Organisation official on Tuesday clarified earlier claims that it is "very rare" for asymptomatic coronavirus patients to transfer the virus.

Addressing a briefing, Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, who made the comment on Monday, said that her claims were based upon two or three studies and some unpublished researches and that it was a “misunderstanding” to say the asymptomatic transmission is rare globally.

The top WHO official clarified that she was "just" responding to a question and that it wasn't a policy statement of the WHO.

Van Kerkhove, earlier said that many countries doing contact tracing had identified asymptomatic cases but were not finding that they caused further spread of the virus, adding: “It is very rare”.

"In that, I used the phrase 'very rare,' and I think that's a misunderstanding to state that asymptomatic transmission globally is very rare," she said, adding: "What I was referring to is a subset of studies."

"Some estimates of around 40% of transmission may be due to asymptomatic, but those are from models, and so I didn't include that in my answer yesterday but wanted to make sure that I covered that here," she added.

The statement had invited sharp criticism at WHO as countries across the globe have urged people to wear face masks and follow safety measures due to the risk of asymptomatic transmission.

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