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What does asymptomatic actually mean in terms of transmitting the virus?

(18 Posts)
EverythingChanges321 Tue 14-Apr-20 19:30:23

How is the virus spread?
I understand that if someone with the virus coughs, the droplets in the air could be passed onto someone else nearby who then touches their face and the virus enters through the mouth, nose or eyes etc.

What I’m confused about is that if someone has the virus in their system but no symptoms, can they still Infect other people and if so, how?

OP’s posts: |
kevintheorangecarrot Tue 14-Apr-20 19:37:34

Exactly the same way. Cough, sneeze, contaminating surfaces etc. Only difference is asymptomatic people don't get any symptoms whatsoever which they believe majority of the population are already asymptomatic. This is why antibody / antigen tests needs to become available ASAP. Look up Typhoid Mary for example.

legalseagull Tue 14-Apr-20 19:51:41

Occasional coughs and sneezes. Sharing cutlery / cups with family etc. Kids slobbering all over toys etc

MrsL2016 Tue 14-Apr-20 19:56:06

The are still contagious the same way. This is why social distancing is so important. We are self isolating if we become symptomatic but people who are asymptomatic won't be. So prior to the advice about increased hand washing and social distancing, asymptomatic people would have been much more likely to spread the virus.

fascinated Tue 14-Apr-20 19:59:56

So can it just jump off the skin on your hand on to your kid’s plate, for example, when you set the table?

MrsVMorgan Tue 14-Apr-20 21:04:20

fascinated- it wouldn’t jump, but if it’s on your hands and you lay the table, anyone who touches anything you have touched and then touched their eyes/nose/mouth has transferred the virus to themselves.

Glowcat Tue 14-Apr-20 21:09:35

All it means is that they feel fine and don’t have symptoms of illness so they’re out food shopping or going for a walk etc. They’re why we need to stay 2m+ away from people and wash our hands.

Floexotic Tue 14-Apr-20 21:13:54

It would only be on your hand if you’d coughed or sneezed into it though wouldn’t it?
And if you’re asymptomatic there’s less likelihood of coughing and sneezing.

fascinated Wed 15-Apr-20 11:16:14

I’m trying to work out if an infected person’s whole skin has virus on it (I don’t know correct terms, I admit!)

fascinated Wed 15-Apr-20 11:17:05

Jump isn’t right word, I mean transfer when I touch the plate/cutlery for instance....

Inkpaperstars Wed 15-Apr-20 11:52:10

Infectious droplets are in breath too, aren't they? Just breathing will do it. Also yes, anything on hands could transfer by touch to objects...which if someone else touches then touches their eyes, nose etc.

Also faecal transmission is a thing so not washing hands after going to the loo, or leaving the lid up when flushing (this can create aerosolised particles or something which hang around for a bit).

Inkpaperstars Wed 15-Apr-20 11:53:09

fascinated no, I don't think it is shed through skin. It would only be on skin if transferred there.

fascinated Thu 16-Apr-20 12:10:51


pocketem Thu 16-Apr-20 12:17:13

New study in Nature Medicine yesterday showed that nearly half of transmission of coronavirus occurs in the pre-symptomatic phase

buttermilkwaffles Thu 16-Apr-20 12:19:20

There was a study that said it also spread from droplet spread due to people speaking (within a certain distance obviously). Which is a good argument for everyone to wear masks even if they have no symptoms (to protect others as well as themselves).

PickAChew Thu 16-Apr-20 12:20:47

You a still cough and sneeze if not ill. It's hay-fever season, right now.

buttermilkwaffles Thu 16-Apr-20 12:22:35

Also need to distinguish between asymptomatic and presymptomatic (people who have it but never go on to show any symptoms vs those who have it but are not yet showing symptoms, but will go on to do so.)

buttermilkwaffles Thu 16-Apr-20 12:51:41

Apologies, a correction to the above, study showed only that it might theoretically be possible for it to spread via droplets from speaking not that it did so.

Or more specifically:
"We did not assess the relative roles of droplets generated during speech, droplet nuclei,2 and aerosols in the transmission of viruses. Our aim was to provide visual evidence of speech-generated droplets and to qualitatively describe the effect of a damp cloth cover over the mouth to curb the emission of droplets."

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