China’s health minister Ma Xiowei has said coronavirus can spread before symptoms show.
The viral infection has infected more than 3,000 people, and 81 people have died.
The health minister told reporters the ability of the virus to spread appears to be strengthening, and that the infections were at a “crucial stage of containment”.
This means it is much harder to contain the virus, and that it is “much more contagious than we originally thought”, according to Dr William Shaffner, adviser to the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.
However, Ma didn’t explain why he thinks the virus can be spread before someone shows symptoms.
The incubation period for a human which has the disease, but is not displaying symptoms yet, ranges from one to 14 days, according to officials.
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This means someone could have the disease without knowing – meaning they can spread it.
Meanwhile, some experts are skeptical to this fact, due to lack of evidence.
Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota, told CNN: “I seriously doubt that the Chinese public officials have any data supporting this statement.
“I know of no evidence in 17 years of working with coronaviruses – SARS and MERS – where anyone has been found to be infectious during their incubation period”.
Whether or not this is the case, the best thing to do is to always practice good hygiene to minimise your risk.
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Many are wearing masks to protect themselves, and the the World Health Organisation(WHO) has issued their own advice.
How to protect yourself against coronavirus:
Symptoms usually start with a fever, followed by a dry cough, which can later lead to difficulty breathing.
WHO has issued advice on how to reduce your risk of developing the infection:
• Clean hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub
• Cover nose and mouth when coughing and sneezing with tissue or flexed elbow
• If you have fever, cough or difficulty breathing seek medical care early
• Throw dissed into a closed bin after use
• Avoid close contact with anyone with cold or flu-like symptoms
• Thoroughly cook meat and eggs
• Avoid unprotected contact with live wild or farm animals
• Raw meat, milk or animal organs should be handled with care
- World Health Organisation
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