The majority of Karnataka’s COVID-19 cases are asymptomatic, reports suggest.
Between April 17th and April 28th, the state reported 205 cases of COVID-19, the disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) or coronavirus. Of these, 93 percent were asymptomatic. Of 520 cases assessed as of April 29th, 72 percent are asymptomatic. Of twenty Karnataka districts with confirmed COVID-19 cases, six reported more than 85 percent of cases to be asymptomatic.
This follows on from prior reports from the Union Government (citing global data) that in eighty percent of cases, COVID-19 cases display mild to no symptoms. Coronavirus symptoms, as previously reported by Health Issues India, include “coughing, shortness of breath, and tiredness. The overlap of symptoms between coronavirus and a myriad of other infectious diseases has made the situation difficult, with only official testing being able to differentiate the coronavirus from a common cold or the flu.” The symptoms are more extreme with severe infections. Yet some cases do not present symptoms at all.
The World Economic Forum published an article on March 24th which said that “as many as six out of ten cases of coronavirus may be caused by people who suffer mild or no symptoms at all, according to new research. And those invisible infections may partly explain the rapid spread of the virus. While they don’t show up in the health system or in the official reports, they are key to halting the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The notion of asymptomatic cases – as is being seen with Karnataka’s COVID-19 cases – is a concern. “We are…worried about asymptomatic persons who are around and may be spreading the infection but we must understand that science has not progressed that far where you can detect such asymptomatic cases cost effectively through simpler tests,” Indian Council of Medical Research epidemiology head Dr R. R. Gangakhedkar said in an earlier televised interview.
The potential for asymptomatic infection emphasises the importance of physical distancing measures, in addition to contact tracing and for testing. Karnataka, in response to reports of asymptomatic cases, intends to scale up random testing to curb the spread. “The testing capacity is expected to touch 5,000 tests a day by the first week of May,” said an official quoted by The Times of India.