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Coronavirus patients with no symptoms will not transmit the virus, World Health Organization officials said on Monday, dismissing some researchers’ fear that asymptomatic infections could make the disease difficult to manage.

Preliminary data from the earliest outbreaks revealed that, even without symptoms, the virus could spread from one person to another. But WHO officials now say it’s not the primary way of transmitting while asymptomatic spreads can occur.

Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, head of WHO’s emerging diseases and zoonosis unit, said at a news briefing from the United Nations agency’s Geneva headquarters, “From the data we have, it still seems to be rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits onward to a secondary individual. It’s very rare.”

Van Kerkhove proposed that government responses should focus on the detection and treatment of suspected people with signs and on the monitoring of everyone in contact with them. However, she has accepted that several studies have demonstrated asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic progression in care homes and households.
More research and data are needed to conclude if the Coronavirus spreads extensively through asymptomatic carriers, she added.