It is generally known that an individual with the Covid-19 virus could be infectious even if they do not show any symptoms of the disease. The World Health Organisation said that the incubation period of about 14 days is also known as the “presymptomatic” period when some infected persons can transmit the virus to others before showing symptoms.
But Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah says that individuals with Covid-19 who are asymptomatic do not have the potential to infect others. This is because they have a low ‘virus load’ as compared to those who are showing symptoms of the disease.
He went on to say, however, that an affected individual can be infectious two days before showing symptoms, reported The Star.
“So, we need to differentiate that the ones without symptoms do not have any problems as there’s no infectivity. But we found that those with symptoms and two days before having those symptoms, they could infect others,” he said at the Ministry of Health’s press conference on Sunday (31 May).
Dr Noor Hisham went on to say that in the first week of showing symptoms, the virus was active enough to infect others, but if the infected individual is isolated between eight and 10 days, or 14 days as the government is currently doing, the infectivity rate can be reduced to almost zero.
“As for those who are asymptomatic, perhaps they won’t be able to infect others within 14 days. But infection can happen two days before the symptomatic period. So, if we can isolate them we can break the Covid-19 chain of transmission,” he said.
Previously, Dr Noor Hisham said that Covid-19 patients will be discharged from the hospital after 14 days of isolation even if they still test positive, because they would no longer be infectious. He said that Covid-19 patients may still test positive after 14 days due to virus shedding or because the test detected a fragment of the dead virus.
Initially, the Ministry of Health had a protocol of discharging Covid-19 patients only if they test negative twice in a period of over 24 hours and later changed it to one negative being enough for a patient to be discharged.
However, after receiving information from WHO as well as research from other countries that infectivity declines after 14 days, a patient will get to go home while still testing positive at the end of their quarantine.
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