Most of these patients are recovering from mild fever and throat irritation even before they test positive. Experts warn that while this could be a signal of the virus losing some of its sting, these asymptomatic — and therefore unaware — patients pose far greater risk of passing on the infection, especially to the elderly and those with low immunity.
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A 42-year-old corporate communications executive tested positive on Sunday after feeling feverish. She says she wouldn’t have got tested if she hadn’t visited a relative at a hospital. The test report left her shocked, as she didn’t have fever nor any of the other Covid-19 symptoms.
A 64-year-old doctor was admitted to a private hospital last week with just a mild cough. He, too, tested positive for Covid-19, even though he had no typical symptoms. Doctors say that in most cases now, fatigue, bodyache, loss of taste and smell, poor appetite and a sense of uneasiness are the principal symptoms.
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“Low-grade fever without any of the associated symptoms is very common now. Often, even the temperature is sliding back to normal before the patient can take note. This is a good sign for it indicates that the virus could be losing its potency. Most positives can now be treated at home and chances of complications are negligible for them. There has been a sharp drop in the number of patients who need to be put on ventilator,” Debkishore Gupta, head of infection control at CMRI Hospital, said. He, however, warned that every Covid patient must still complete the quarantine period.
According to AMRI Hospitals consultant Debashish Saha, a pandemic can be checked only when 30%-50% of the population gets affected with mild symptoms.
“Some viruses lose virulence through transmission and we could be reaching that stage. But every patient with mild symptoms needs to be screened and kept in home isolation. While it will help free up hospital beds for more serious patients, isolation at home could be a challenge for a large section of our underprivileged population who don’t have enough space for it,” Saha said.
The last two weeks has seen a sharp spurt in patients with very mild symptoms, Raja Dhar, pulmonologist at Fortis Hospital, said. Belle Vue Clinic consultant Rahul Jain said the majority of infections would now be mild or totally asymptomatic. “Those with an influenza-like illness or sudden acute respiratory illness are the other end of the spectrum. They’re now a small part of the total infections in the community.”