Testing low in some countries: WHO expert

March 18, 2020 01:35 am | Updated 01:35 am IST - CHENNAI

“In some countries, the testing for COVID-19 is low, and we may be getting a false sense of what is happening,” said Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist, World Health Organisation.

Speaking on “Global Situation of COVID-19 and Research and Development Response” through a video-conference, during an international update on COVID-19 on Tuesday, she said that some countries had taken such great action that they were able to control.

Ms. Swaminathan cited examples of how Singapore and Hong Kong were able to control, and how South Korea had tested people for COVID-19.

Talking about the known factors of COVID-19, she said, “There are some people who have very high viral load in the upper respiratory tract, and we also know that the virus can transmit from person to person before they become sick....We also know that more than 80% of the infections are mild and may not have a lot of symptoms.”

On how COVID-19 impacted children, she said, “The younger the person, the fewer the symptoms. Children seem to be infected but do not show much symptoms. They are not getting sick which is a good thing. They are not presenting to the hospital but they may be the transmitters in the community.”

“What we now know is that children can get infected. There have been studies done in China within families to see whether there is transmission through children, and yes, there is. But children are not falling ill and are not showing symptoms, and that is unusual. They are protected for some reason but could spread the infection. That is why it is important to look at the impact of school closures,” she said.

Health Minister C. Vijayabaskar inaugurated the update that was organised by the Tamil Nadu Dr. MGR Medical University and Indian Medical Association Tamil Nadu State Branch and IMA Chennai South. Vice-chancellor of the university, Sudha Seshayyan, was present.

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