Answer Bank: Am I an asymptomatic COVID-19 patient?
Updated 14:02, 09-Jun-2020
By Guo Meiping

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop in nearly every country, the risk of asymptomatic patients has been brought into sharp focus.

Put simply, asymptomatic patients of COVID-19 are people who tested positive in nucleic acid or antibody tests but have not developed any symptoms, such as a fever, coughing and fatigue. This type of case is most likely to arise from close contact with confirmed COVID-19 patients, such family members. They will not appear out of nowhere in areas that have never been hit by the pandemic.

The most important question about asymptomatic patients is, are they contagious? According to current monitoring and research, asymptomatic patients of COVID-19 are contagious.

Generally, there are two types of asymptomatic carriers: people who don't develop any clinically recognizable symptoms after 14 days of medical observation and those who have tested positive with no symptoms but later develop them.

Now, you may ask since there are no symptoms, how do I know if I am an asymptomatic COVID-19 carrier?

Although nucleic acid testing is currently the main way to identify asymptomatic patients of COVID-19, you can self-check if there is a lack of test kits in your area.

You don't have to worry too much if you don't meet the following conditions:

1. Traveled to epidemic areas in the past two weeks

2. Contacted confirmed or suspected patients in the past two weeks

3. Have infected patients in your family

But if you do, you should report to nearby medical facilities at once and self-quarantine for 14 days even if you don't have any symptoms. Be aware that close contacts of asymptomatic patients also need 14 days of isolation.

Some experts believe that due to the absence of symptoms such as coughing and sneezing, the chance of transmission from asymptomatic patients is relatively less than from confirmed COVID-19 patients. But that doesn't mean you should let your guard down, because speaking and breathing can also expel the virus.

Just like preventing any other respiratory diseases, you can protect yourself and others from being infected by wearing masks, washing your hands frequently, avoiding touching your face, and keeping a distance of at least one meter from others. You can also improve your immunity by exercising.

Only a few asymptomatic patients develop into confirmed cases, the majority will self-heal. So, don't be overly worried but stay alert. With proper protection, the likelihood of being infected is very low.

(Video filmed by Fu Gaoliang; cover image designed by Li Wenyi)