PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The World Health Organization is clearing up confusion about the spread of coronavirus.
On Monday, the organization said it’s “very rare” that asymptomatic carriers will spread the virus to others.
They took back that statement on Tuesday.
“I used the phrase ‘very rare’ and I think that’s a misunderstanding to state that asymptomatic transmission globally is very rare,” said Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove with the World Health Organization. “What I was referring to was a subset of studies. I also referred to some data that isn’t published.”
Dr. Graham Snyder with UPMC said transmission is still likely.
“I don’t know that we have enough data to say that it’s rare. There are some studies that suggest it could be anywhere from six to 40 percent of the time somebody who’s asymptomatic can be contagious,” said Dr. Snyder.
However, experts say it’s more likely to spread the virus if you have symptoms or are pre-symptomatic.
“I may be contagious for a brief period, and then I start to have symptoms,” said Dr. Snyder.
Dr. Jennifer Preiss with Allegheny Health Network said it is still important to wear a mask and social distance, whether you have symptoms or not. However, Preiss wants to stress that being asymptomatic is not as concerning as health experts once thought it would be.
“Going back to college campuses, and possibly being in dorm rooms and going back to classrooms and elementary schools and middle schools and high schools are going to be possible because we’re not as frightened,” said Dr. Preiss.
Doctors said we also have to remind ourselves that the elderly and people with certain underlying health conditions are more likely to become seriously ill if they catch the virus.