Pre-Symptomatic Covid-19 Patients Are Contagious: Health DG

The viral load is high two to three days before symptom onset, says Dr Noor Hisham.

KUALA LUMPUR, June 1 — People can transmit Covid-19 infection two to three days before developing symptoms, Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah clarified today.

Bernama previously misquoted Dr Noor Hisham in reporting him as saying “asymptomatic Covid-19 positive individuals do not have potential to infect others,” which prompted the Health director-general’s clarification at a press conference today.

“When I read some news from the newspaper, some said that if one doesn’t show symptoms, that person is not infectious at all. Although no symptoms, but within the two to three days before symptoms begin to show, they are still infectious because their viral load is high then.

“And when their viral load is high enough, then we see the symptom development such as fever and et cetera,” said Dr Noor Hisham.

He further explained that 85 per cent of Covid-19 cases were asymptomatic, but those who end up showing symptoms are infectious the few days before their symptom development as the viral load increases enough to present symptoms.

“Among those who do not show symptoms, 85 per cent of cases we got did not show symptoms but are positive. They are not infectious if their viral load is not high, but their virus load is high about two to three days before they show symptoms.

“Although they haven’t shown symptoms then, the pre-symptomatic period, which is also defined as two to three days before showing symptoms, that is when they are infectious,” he said.

A number of studies have revealed that the coronavirus can transmit from an infected person without symptoms to another. Research from Wuhan, China, found that asymptomatic Covid-19 patients did not shed as much virus as those who are symptomatic; however, they are still contagious but only for a lesser amount of time at eight days, compared to symptomatic patients who are infectious for 19 days.

Dr Noor Hisham said today that Covid-19 patients are contagious for about seven to eight days after displaying symptoms.

“After the week or ten days, their infectivity is then lessened, and after a period of 14 days, we can then discharge (the patient). That was informed by the WHO (World Health Organization) to us,” he explained.

Sarawakian doctors have reportedly questioned Malaysia’s change of discharge protocol for Covid-19 patients by discharging them after 14 days of treatment, regardless of the test result. SUPP urged MOH to publicly share the WHO findings behind the new protocol.

Malaysia today reported 38 new Covid-19 cases, which brings the total number of cases to 7,857; active cases as of today were reported at 1,338. Twenty-six cases were imported cases, which means that 12 were local transmissions. No death was reported today; the Covid-19 death toll in the country remains at 115.

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