A spike in the number of asymptomatic COVID-19 cases detected in the capital is due to the community sampling exercise being conducted in Delhi’s 77 containment zones, a State government official said on Sunday.
Earlier in the day, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said all 186 patients who tested positive on Sunday were asymptomatic. He revealed that of the 736 test results that came in on Saturday, 186 patients who tested positive showed no symptoms. This, he pointed out, was 25% of the total test results that came in on Saturday.
The Chief Minister cited this danger to justify his decision to continue the tight lockdown imposed in the capital. “They [the positive persons] didn’t know they had the corona[virus] and were roaming here and there with the corona[virus]. This is very dangerous,” he said.
Mr. Kejriwal, who on Saturday pointed to a clutch of cases in Jehangirpuri, said on Sunday that a volunteer who had been distributing food at a Delhi government centre had also tested positive. The government, he added, would be testing everyone who might have come in contact with this volunteer.
The issue of asymptomatic patients in the country also came up at the Health Ministry briefing on Sunday. “A very small percentage of those who are asymptomatic are testing positive, as the historical data across the world is showing. However, we have to be aware of this challenge. Our strategy is to monitor those who are asymptomatic and high-risk and test them. Those who are contacts and asymptomatic are advised to be in home quarantine and those at high risk ought to be in facility quarantine,” Health Ministry spokesman Lav Agarwal said.
Several States are reporting a high proportion of asymptomatic persons turning positive. Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has said over 70% of the COVID-19 cases in the State were asymptomatic and reports suggest the figure is 60% in Karnataka.
A study published in Nature Medicine last week, based on experience in China, said nearly 44% of the patients were asymptomatic.