A MAJORITY of people infected with the novel coronavirus are walking around with the virus undetected, a new study says.
Six of every seven – or 86 per cent – COVID-19 cases found in China went unreported before travel restrictions were implemented, which fueled the spread of the virus, according to a study published Monday by the journal Science.
"It's the undocumented infections which are driving the spread of the outbreak," co-author Dr. Jeffrey Shaman of Columbia University Mailman School told reporters, according to GeekWire.
Researchers from Columbia University used computer modeling to track infections from before and after the travel ban in Wuhan, China.
Nearly two-thirds of the reported patients showed little to no symptoms of these undocumented infections, or what medical experts call "stealth" cases.
The "stealth" cases were then able to transmit the virus that could cause more severe symptoms in other people, the researchers said.
"It will continue to present a major challenge to the containment of this outbreak going forward," said Shaman.
He argued that the growing number of "stealth" cases underscore the importance of restricting movement and enforcing social distancing in hard-hit areas.
On Monday the Trump administration outlined new strategies for battling the global pandemic, including Americans confining themselves to their homes and avoiding meetings in public places.
A statement on the White House's website said the new guidelines were "simple to follow but will have a resounding impact on public health."
Health experts predict that the novel coronavirus could kill nearly seven million in the US – a death toll 11 times worse than cancer.
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