One of the key questions in the fast-growing novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) outbreak has been the possibility that asymptomatic people transmit the virus to others, and German researchers yesterday who described a workplace illness cluster suggest that it probably played a role in virus spread.
The report involves Germany’s first patient, whose illness was announced on Jan 28. German researchers detailed their investigation findings in a letter to the New England Journal of Medicine.
Earlier this month, Chinese health officials said they suspected a role for transmission in the outbreak when a patient has no obvious symptoms, but experts have said they are waiting for more evidence. Asymptomatic transmission is known to occur with other respiratory viruses, but it isn’t thought to be a major driver of disease spread.
Reassessment of transmission dynamics?
The man had attended work meetings with a Chinese colleague who became ill on the plane as she returned home to Shanghai, where she was diagnosed as having 2019-nCoV.
On the day after she tested positive, she reached out to the German company, and contact tracing began. The man—who had been sick a few days before with fever and…
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