A 20-year-old Chinese woman from Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, traveled 675 km north to Anyang, where she infected five relatives without showing any signs of infection, Chinese scientists reported on Friday, providing new evidence that the virus this can be spread asymptomatically.
The case study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association provided evidence of the spread of the coronavirus and suggested why treatment may be difficult to stop.
"Scientists have asked if you have this infection and can't be sick? The answer appears to be," said Dr. William Schaffner, infectious disease expert at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, who was not involved in the study.
China has reported a total of 75,567 cases of the virus known as COVID-19 to the World Health Organization (WHO), including 2,239 deaths. The virus has spread to 26 countries and areas outside mainland China.
Researchers have reported sporadic reports of people without symptoms who are spreading the virus. What is different in this study is that it offers some kind of natural laboratory experiment, Schaffner said.
"You had this patient from Wuhan, where the virus is, and traveled to where the virus was not. She remained asymptomatic and infected a number of family members, and you had a group of doctors who immediately took the moment and all have tested. "
According to Dr. Meiyun Wang from the Zhengzhou University People's Hospital and colleagues traveled the woman from Wuhan to Anyang on January 10 and visited several relatives. When they got sick, the doctors isolated the woman and tested her for coronavirus. The young woman was initially tested negative for the virus, but a follow-up test was positive.
All five of her relatives developed COVID-19 pneumonia, but by February 11, the young woman had developed no symptoms, her breast CT remained normal, and she had no symptoms of fever, stomach, or breathing such as coughing or sore throat.
Scientists in the study said if the results were repeated, "Prevention of COVID-19 infection could prove difficult."
The most important questions, according to Schaffner, are how often this type of transmission occurs and when a person is tested positive for the virus during the asymptomatic phase.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and published from a syndicated feed.)