The critical yet less understood group of asymptomatic carriers of the coronavirus could make or break the case against lifting restrictive measures during Greek Orthodox Easter in the Republic of Cyprus.
Health officials on Sunday said 16% of known infected persons have shown no symptoms of the Covid-19 disease. The percentage of infections without symptoms, which represented cases until April 2, marked a 3% increase from just a few days earlier when asymptomatic carriers were at 13%.
Based on official information available to the public in Cyprus, the vast majority of infected carriers had mild symptoms attributed to the bug, including cough, fever, muscle ache, sore throat, difficulty breathing, while fewer people reported runny nose and diarrhea.
This week is 'the crucial period' for finding out whether measures have worked to keep infection rates low enough to avoid a second wave
Asymptomatic patients, who have the virus and can give it to others but show no symptoms, have also become China's chief concern in recent weeks along with imported cases after tough measures succeeded in keeping the infection rate low.
Health officials in a number of countries around the globe including Cyprus went on alert last month, as scientific studies on a “second wave” of the coronavirus outbreak began to emerge.
Asymptomatic carriers during the incubation period can be a latent infection source of COVID-19, according to experts, who believe social distancing measures and closures could either work well or simply delay a second wave of infection.
Need more time to evaluate infection rate
Leondios Kostrikis, a professor of biotechnology and virology at the University of Cyprus, told a coronavirus briefing recently that measures in place have been effective but this could still change at a moment’s notice.
Local media said officials believed this week was “the crucial period” for finding out whether measures have worked to keep infection rates low enough to avoid a second wave.
Additional reports said a number of infected carriers were not being completely honest about their contacts, with health officials fearing that unsuspecting friends and relatives of persons who tested positive may have been infected or infected others without their knowledge.
Not out of the woods yet
Kostrikis said he was in favour of keeping curfew-like restrictions in place, warning that while the situation was under control, it was also changeable at short notice.
“Please stay home and maintain social distancing,” he said.
Other health experts also called for measures to remain in place during Easter on the island, which starts next week.
More fears related to asymptomatic cases in a number of countries including China emerged as many more people who traveled abroad were expected to plan to return home as restrictive measures were being lifted.