Asymptomatic Covid-19 cases raise curiously among health circles in Tamil Nadu

South India

Detects of asymtomatic Covid-19 cases in Tamil Nadu have raised curiosity in the health circles since experts doubt whether this emergence of less virulent mutated version of the virus

The testing of participants of the Tablighi Jamaat conference in Delhi conducted by health officials in Tamil Nadu has thrown up a surprise. 

The test revealed that more than 80 percent of the participants, who tested positive for coronavirus, had no symptoms. Health department officials doubt whether this is due to any mutation in the virus. If so this could be less virulent in the region.

The department has asked virologists to study the strain of the virus and its virulence. State Health Minister C Vijayabhaskar that scientists from health and veterinary sciences department have been asked to study if the virus had mutated. 

“Researchers will collect data from samples from people and their families and neighbours. It can give us important information in our fight and help us prevent the spread,” the minister was quoted by Times of India as saying. 
However, a section of the experts feel that it is too early to study strain as cases are yet to peak. “All viruses mutate over time, some faster than others. Covid-19 is a very young one on the list. There is no evidence to show the strain we see here is different,” says Dr V Ramasubramanian, infectious disease consultant at Apollo Hospitals. 

He said he no longer sees fever, a dry cough and fatigue as tell-tale symptoms of the infection. “I see patients with no cough having bad congestion. Some of them even tolerate low oxygen saturation,” TOI quoted Dr Ramasubramanian as saying. 

The matter of asymptomatic Covid-19 patients was discussed at the task force meeting chaired by chief secretary K Shanmugam on Friday. The meeting felt it was important to study if there is a reattachment or modification in the virus as experience shared by experts from other states with Tamil Nadu differed considerably.

A stark difference is in the fatality. While Maharashtra recorded 40 deaths, Tamil Nadu had only one so far. The officials think this could be due to difference in the strains of the virus. Asymptomatic transmission isn’t new. 
“While it is good to study, it may be too early to celebrate. We are not yet at the beginning of the peak we are going to see,” said a senior virologist at Christian Medical College in Vellore. Predictions done by the health department using mathematical models estimate we may have up to 1lakh hospitalisations during the peak period.

WHO chief scientist Dr Soumya Swaminathan said while children in several Chinese households remained asymptomatic transmitters, some can be presymptomatic. These are people who unwittingly spread the virus before they have symptoms. Scientists in Japan pointed out that this presymptomatic transmission is happening at a more rapid rate now than it did during SARS (with inputs from Times of India) 
Image Credit: News Minute 

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