In keeping with the guidelines of the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Ministry of Health is declaring asymptomatic persons, who previously tested positive for the COVID-19 disease, no longer infectious after 13 days.
The Ministry’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer (DCMO), Dr. Karen Gordon- Boyle, explained that once an asymptomatic person who shows a positive result for COVID-19 remains in isolation for 13 days but continues to show no symptoms after that period, then that person is cleared of the virus.
Dr. Gordon- Boyle explained that the decision to clear asymptomatic cases after 13 days was not taken arbitrarily. She said that the Health Ministry can safely declare those persons non-infectious without retesting them based on WHO recommendations.
“Based on scientific findings of the World Health Organisation, by collecting data from a myriad of countries around the world, WHO concluded that despite this positive test result, after at least 10 days, these patients are not likely to be infectious and therefore are unlikely to be able to transmit the virus to another person,” she explained. The DCMO added that “in Guyana, the Ministry has added three days to the 10-day period for which asymptomatic persons can be cleared of spreading the disease.”
Asked about retesting asymptomatic persons to confirm their status, the DCMO said that due to the backlog of persons awaiting their test results that is not a feasible option.
“It’s just not reasonable at this time, since there are still hundreds of people awaiting their test results,” she said.
In addition, the DCMO stressed that though cleared of the disease, asymptomatic persons should still observe the COVID-19 health guidelines.
“They must observe the guidelines – wear their masks, wash their hands and practice social distancing, “she said.
Global research on COVID-19 continues to be conducted, including how the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is transmitted. Current evidence from WHO suggests that most transmission occurs from symptomatic people through close contact with others.
Accordingly, most recommendations by WHO on personal protective measures (such as use of masks and physical distancing) are based on controlling transmission from symptomatic patients, including patients with mild symptoms who are not easy to identify early on.
Available evidence from contact tracing reported by countries suggests that asymptomatically infected individuals are much less likely to transmit the virus than those who develop symptoms.
A subset of studies and data shared by some countries on detailed cluster investigations and contact tracing activities have reported that asymptomatically infected individuals are much less likely to transmit the virus than those who develop symptoms.
However, comprehensive studies on transmission from asymptomatic patients are difficult to conduct, as they require testing of large population cohorts and more data is usually needed to better understand and quantify the transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2.
In the meantime, WHO is working with countries around the world, and global researchers, to gain better evidence-based understanding of the disease as a whole, including the role of asymptomatic patients in the transmission of the virus.
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