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Coronavirus symptoms: Mild to none in most cases, Government says

COVID-19 Treatment, Transmission, Spreading, Symptoms, Testing and Risks Concept. Chart with keywords and icons on white desk with stationery. Coronavirus symptoms illustration.The Union Government reports that coronavirus symptoms are mild or do not present in the overwhelming majority of cases. 

The Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare reports this to be the case in eighty percent of cases based on the available evidence drawn from global data. “On the basis of worldwide analysis, eighty percent of coronavirus patients are asymptomatic or show mild symptoms,” said joint secretary in the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Lav Agarwal. “Around fifteen percent turn into severe cases and five percent turn into critical cases.”

It exhorted the citizenry to adhere to the physical distancing measures imposed by the Government, which includes a virtually total lockdown in place until May 3rd. Some areas of the country such as the state of Telangana have extended the lockdown further.

The coronavirus pandemic is caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), which is generally referred to simply as coronavirus. COVID-19 has claimed thousands of lives worldwide including hundreds in India. More than two million people have been infected with the coronavirus worldwide. 

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.

“Should these symptoms occur, medical attention is not yet a priority at this point. The following symptoms have been put forward as warning signs of a more severe infection: difficulty breathing, persistent pain or pressure in the chest, new confusion or inability to respond, and bluish lips or face. Should any of these symptoms occur, medical attention should be sought out.”

Yet coronavirus symptoms may not present in those infected. A World Economic Forum article published March 24th cited research suggesting “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.”

This underscores the importance of physical distancing measures. The Government, in advance of the lockdown, outlined an advisory on physical distancing following a Group of Ministers meeting chaired by Union Minister of Health and Family Welfare Dr Harsh Vardhan. This included the closure of public buildings such as gyms, museums, and educational institutes and dissuasion of non-essential travel, among other measures. Since that advisory, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a lockdown which represented a virtual moratorium on “venturing out of your homes.” 

Even when the lockdown is lifted, it will likely be necessary still to adhere to physical distancing measures when out in public. The fact that asymptomatic carriers may not present with coronavirus symptoms emphasises the importance of this – especially when considering the limitations of India’s testing strategy for COVID-19. 

“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 a televised interview. He went on to state that “a person takes time to be symptomatic and when asymptomatic people are tested, chances of the test coming positive will remain low as compared to when he is closer to infection. This is the limitation of tests.”

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