Cases of the 2019-nCoV coronavirus have increased dramatically over the past week, prompting concerns about how contagious the virus is and how it spreads. According to the WHO, 16-21% of people with the virus in China became severely ill and 2-3% of those infected have died. A key factor that influences transmission is whether the virus can spread in the absence of symptoms — either during the incubation period (the days before people become visibly ill) or in people who never get sick. On January 26, 2020, Chinese officials said transmission had occurred during the incubation period. So what does the evidence tell us so far?
Can you transmit it before you get symptoms?
Influenza is the classic example of a virus that can spread when people have no symptoms at all.
In contrast, people with SARS only spread the virus when they had symptoms.
No published scientific data are available to support China’s claim transmission of 2019-nCoV occurred during the incubation period.
However, one study published in The Lancet showed children may be shedding (or transmitting) the virus while…
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