COVID-19 asymptomatic patients: Answers to frequently asked questions
As China is battling a new COVID-19 outbreak, the increased proportion of asymptomatic patients in the newly confirmed COVID-19 cases has raised questions among the public. Let's revisit some important information about COVID-19 asymptomatic patients.
Q: What is asymptomatic infection?
A: Asymptomatic infection means people who display no abnormal findings on their lung CT scans and have no symptoms such as fever, cough or sore throat, but test positive for the novel coronavirus.
Q: What is the difference between confirmed and asymptomatic cases?
A: Only those showing symptoms or who have abnormal lung CT scan findings can be labeled as confirmed cases.
Q: Can asymptomatic patients infect others?
A: Asymptomatic patients, like confirmed ones, can also infect others. Confirmed transmission routes include direct transmission, aerosol transmission and contact transmission.
Q: How to find asymptomatic patients?
A: There are three approaches to identifying asymptomatic patients: (1) proactively testing close contacts of confirmed cases during their medical observation period; (2) proactively testing those who have been exposed to the virus during infection source tracing; and (3) proactively testing key populations such as those who have traveled to regions with ongoing COVID-19 transmissions.
Q: Why are there many asymptomatic infections in the latest outbreak in Shanghai?
A: The pathogenicity of the Omicron variant is weaker than its predecessors. This means those who are infected by the Omicron variant are more likely to display mild or no symptoms.
Additionally, vaccination of large-scale populations has played a very important role in protecting the vulnerable, reducing the degree of severity and mortality rate and causing the proportion of mild or asymptomatic patients to increase.
Lastly, fast initial screenings conducted by the nation's pandemic prevention system helped with identifying those who are asymptomatic or in the early stages of infection.
Q: How long should asymptomatic patients be quarantined?
A: Asymptomatic patients should be quarantined for 14 days for further observations and wait for their nucleic acid tests to turn negative.
Q: Do asymptomatic patients require special medical treatment?
A: At present, asymptomatic patients do not require special medical treatment.