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WHO: Spread of coronavirus by ”asymptomatic” less likely

Van Kerkhove in a media briefing reportedly said that from the data examined by WHO, it still seems to be rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits onward to a secondary individual.

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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus WHO

New Delhi, June 9 : The spread of Covid-19 by an asymptomatic or someone who is not showing any symptoms appears to be less likely, said WHO in the recently published summary of transmission of Covid-19 including symptomatic, pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic patients.

The study acquires special importance as India enters the second week of Unlock1.0, with restaurants, religious places, malls opening up, added to a vast population straying out for morning and evening walks.

According to the WHO”s report, “Comprehensive studies on transmission from asymptomatic individuals are difficult to conduct, but the available evidence from contact tracing reported by Member States suggests that asymptomatically-infected individuals are much less likely to transmit the virus than those who develop symptoms.”

Maria Van Kerkhove, the World Health Organization”s technical lead for Covid-19 response in a tweet said “In these data, it is important to breakdown truly asymptomatic vs pre-symptomatic vs mildly symptomatic.

“Also to note that the per cent reported or estimated to be “asymptomatic” is not the same as the per cent that are asymptomatic that actually transmits.”

The WHO said among the available published studies, some have described occurrences of transmission from people who did not have symptoms. For example, among 63 asymptomatically-infected individuals studied in China, there was evidence that 9 (14 per cent) infected another person. Furthermore, among two studies which carefully investigated secondary transmission from cases to contacts, one found no secondary transmission among 91 contacts of 9 asymptomatic cases, while the other reported that 6.4 per cent of cases were attributable to pre-symptomatic transmission.

“The available data, to date, on onward infection from cases without symptoms comes from a limited number of studies with small samples that are subject to possible recall bias and for which fomite transmission cannot be ruled out,” said the WHO.

Some people infected with the COVID-19 virus do not ever develop any symptoms, although they can shed virus which may then be transmitted to others. The WHO said one recent systematic review found that the proportion of asymptomatic cases ranged from 6 to 41 per cent, with a pooled estimate of 16 per cent (12–20), although most studies included in this review have important limitations of poor reporting of symptoms, or did not properly define which symptoms they were investigating. Viable virus has been isolated from specimens of pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals, suggesting, therefore, that people who do not have symptoms may be able to transmit the virus to others, added the WHO.

Van Kerkhove in a media briefing reportedly said that from the data examined by WHO, it still seems to be rare that an asymptomatic person actually transmits onward to a secondary individual.

The WHO said that according to the current evidence, COVID-19 virus is primarily transmitted between people via respiratory droplets and contact routes. “Droplet transmission occurs when a person is in close contact (within 1 metre) with an infected person and exposure to potentially infective respiratory droplets occurs, for example, through coughing, sneezing or very close personal contact resulting in the inoculation of entry portals such as the mouth, nose or conjunctivae…. Therefore, transmission of the COVID-19 virus can occur directly by contact with infected people, or indirectly by contact with surfaces in the immediate environment or with objects used on or by the infected person (e.g., stethoscope or thermometer)”, added the transmission study.

(Sumit Saxena can be contacted at [email protected])

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‘Turkey’s number of severe COVID-19 cases under control’

Turkish health professionals conducted 40,247 tests in the past 24 hours, bringing the overall number of tests to 4,885,916, he added.

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Corona cases in Turkey

Ankara, Aug 3 : Turkey’s number of serious ill COVID-19 patients seems to be under control, Turkish health minister said.

The COVID-19 cases increased by 987 in Turkey, raising the total diagnosed cases to 232,856, Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca tweeted on Sunday, Xinhua news agency reported.

The rate of pneumonia in COVID-19 patients is 8.5 per cent, the number of seriously ill patients is 582, he stated.

Meanwhile, 18 people died in the past 24 hours, taking the death toll to 5,728, Koca said, adding that a total of 978 patients recovered, raising the total recoveries to 216,494 in Turkey since the outbreak.

Turkish health professionals conducted 40,247 tests in the past 24 hours, bringing the overall number of tests to 4,885,916, he added.

Turkey reported the first COVID-19 case on March 11.

Turkey and China have supported each other in the fight against COVID-19.

Chinese doctors and medical experts held video conferences with Turkish counterparts to share China’s experience in treating coronavirus patients, protecting medical workers, and controlling the spread of the virus.

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Mandatory BCG vaccination linked with slower Covid-19 growth

Mandatory BCG vaccination correlated with a flattening of the curve in the spread of Covid-19, the analysis showed.

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New York, Aug 2 : Adding to the growing evidence that early BCG vaccination may be helpful in taming the Covid-19 spread, scientists now claim that countries with mandatory BCG vaccination until at least the year 2000 tended to exhibit slower infection and death rates during the first 30 days of the outbreak.

By applying a statistical model based on their findings, the researchers further estimated that only 468 people would likely have died from Covid-19 in the US as of March 29 – which is 19 per cent of the actual figure of 2,467 deaths by that date – if the US had instituted mandatory BCG vaccination several decades ago.

Martha Berg, the study’s lead author from University of Michigan (U-M) and colleagues focused on changes in the growth rates of Covid-19 cases and deaths, while controlling for variables including diagnostic test availability, median age, per capita GDP, population size and density, net migration rate, and various cultural differences such as individualism.

Their findings suggest that national policies for universal BCG vaccination can be effective in the fight against Covid-19 – an association that merits clinical investigation.

“Available evidence demonstrates that BCG vaccination, typically given at birth or during childhood to prevent tuberculosis, can also help strengthen immunity against various other infectious diseases – perhaps including Covid-19,” the authors wrote in a paper published in the journal Science Advances.

To reach this conclusion, Berg and colleagues analyzed the day-by-day rate of increase of confirmed cases in 135 countries and deaths in 134 countries in the first 30-day period of each country’s outbreak.

Mandatory BCG vaccination correlated with a flattening of the curve in the spread of Covid-19, the analysis showed.

However, the authors caution that their results do not portray BCG as a “magic bullet.”

They found substantial variation in Covid-19 growth rates even among BCG-mandated countries, suggesting that additional societal variables likely have an effect on mandatory BCG vaccination’s effect on the spread of the disease.

In India, the Tamil Nadu government last month allowed a pilot project to study if the BCG vaccine will help reduce the mortality rate among elderly Covid-19 patients. The National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis will start the pilot programme.

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Assam flood situation improving, affected tally dips to 9 lakh

The animals that have died in the annual monsoon floods include 16 rhinos, 105 hog deer, 11 wild boars, five wild buffaloes, three porcupines and two swamp deer.

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Flood Situation Top

Guwahati, Aug 2 : Assam’s flood situation has significantly improved in the past ten days, with the number of affected people declining by over two-thirds to nine lakh as on Sunday against 28 lakh on July 24, officials said.

The respite in the monsoon rains since July 24 lay behind the improvement in the flood situation in Assam and other northeastern states, India Meteorological Department (IMD) officials said.

Assam State Disaster Management Authority (ASDMA) officials said that nine lakh people in 1,087 villages continue to be distressed, though the number has dropped since July 24 when over 28 lakh people in 2,543 villages of 26 districts were affected.

A total of 51,770 hectares of crops are still flooded, but the area has come down from 122,573 hectares as on July 24.

According to officials, of the 9 lakh affected people in 19 of the 33 districts, 6.26 lakh are in the state’s six western districts — Goalpara (303,937), Morigaon (107,578), Bongaigaon (63,194), Barpeta (41,716), Golaghat (26,184), and Dhubri (27,930), as well as the eastern district of Lakhimpur (55,691).

The ASDMA officials said that six major rivers, including the Brahmaputra, are in spate at many places in nine districts, including Sonitpur, where both the Brahmaputra and Jia Bharali are flowing over the danger level.

There was no loss of lives reported on Saturday and Sunday, though the floods have so far left 109 persons, including women and children, dead in 22 districts, while 26 others were killed in landslides since May 22.

Forest officials said that at least 147 wild animals have died due to the deluge and 170 have been rescued, even as over 50 per cent of the 884 sq km Kaziranga National Park remains inundated. Ten days ago, 95 per cent had been flooded. The animals that have died in the annual monsoon floods include 16 rhinos, 105 hog deer, 11 wild boars, five wild buffaloes, three porcupines and two swamp deer.

Officials said that besides Kaziranga, located on the edge of the eastern Himalayan bio-diversity hotspots of Golaghat and Nagaon districts, the Manas, R.G. Orang and Tinsukia national parks, and the Pabitora and Tinsukia wildlife sanctuaries were also affected.

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