People without symptoms may be spreading Covid-19

There seems to have been a significant shift in New Zealand over the last couple of days from only testing people with possible symptoms of Covid-19 to testing many more people. There may be a reason for this.

CNN: Infected people without symptoms might be driving the spread of coronavirus more than we realized

New studies in several countries and a large coronavirus outbreak in Massachusetts bring into question reassuring assertions by US officials about the way the novel virus spreads.

These officials have emphasized that the virus is spread mainly by people who are already showing symptoms, such as fever, cough or difficulty breathing. If that’s true, it’s good news, since people who are obviously ill can be identified and isolated, making it easier to control an outbreak.

But it appears that a Massachusetts coronavirus cluster with at least 82 cases was started by people who were not yet showing symptoms, and more than half a dozen studies have shown that people without symptoms are causing substantial amounts of infection.

Yesterday – Coronavirus: Twelve cases confirmed with latest instances in Wellington and Dunedin

Bloomfield said the ministry was ramping up testing, from about a 100 a day to 500.

“We have the capacity to do up to 1500 tests a day – well actually, we can do 750 to 1000 if we need to – but to go up to 1000, that just means doing an extra shift of laboratory staff. Again, we don’t want to run our laboratory staff to the ground so what’s most important is that we test the right people.”

And More testing for Covid-19 needed – National

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is reassuring New Zealanders there are plenty of tests available for whoever needs it, but National says the criteria are still too strict.

The World Health Organisation has criticised countries for not being aggressive enough with testing regimes.

About 530 tests have been done in New Zealand so far. Eight people have been found to have the virus, and two people remain probable cases.

Ardern said anyone who needed to be tested, can be.

“Our capacity is significant. We’re ramping up to have the ability to have up to 1500 tests per day.

“And that test number that you’ve been seeing per day happening in the community is growing day on day.”

Health Minister David Clark said hospitals were well prepared for an increase in cases.

“Certainly we are doing preparations for a lot of different scenarios.

“We’ve seen overseas systems put under pressure primarily because they haven’t done the stuff the WHO again emphasised as important today,” he said.

Testing may ramp – hopefully in Dunedin today.

 

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38 Comments

  1. Duker

     /  18th March 2020

    “been a significant shift in New Zealand over the last couple of days from only testing people with possible symptoms of Covid-19 to testing many more people. ”

    The reason is they now have much more of the test kits ( from germany) and the medical lab staff/equipment to do so.
    Every country has had the issue of availability of test kits to do it.
    Its not really viable to mass test everyone without symptons, maybe only those people who have been in close personal contact with a known infected person or critical people like medical staff.

    Reply
    • NOEL

       /  18th March 2020

      That’s not entirely correct.
      Up to now the threshold has been epidemiological and symptoms.

      Reply
  2. David

     /  18th March 2020

    The medical boffin in the UK just told their select committee that he thinks there are 55000 infections in the UK at the moment against the 1950 or so reported ones. South Koreas death rate now .65%. Singapore back to normal with 243 infections and no deaths.
    There is some optimism that a vaccine might be available by December, 3 human trials already underway.
    Anti viral treatments seem like they wont be too far away using existing approved drugs.
    The best news is China is returning to normal and their hasnt been a secondary outbreak which one would expect after mass quarantine which perhaps indicate a massive amount of people got an asymptomatic or incredibly mild dose and there is some form of herd immunity.

    Reply
  3. Duker

     /  18th March 2020

    “”This is currently unclear,” said Professor Allen Cheng, director of the infection prevention unit at Alfred Health. “But most evidence points away from children being major spreaders of COVID-19.”

    https://www.theage.com.au/national/top-global-health-expert-says-schools-not-a-major-covid-19-driver-20200317-p54ax6.html
    Thats good to know , even if there is considerable uncertainty about that view.
    Children may be better off at school but a short closure may be required like in Dunedin mainly as a confidence builder

    Reply
  4. NOEL

     /  18th March 2020

    NZ closing the boarder with a “kiwi get home” call.
    Australia doing same.
    Next step 3 weeks self isolation for all except essential services?

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  18th March 2020

      Not really necessary to have a total internal shutdown with around half a dozen live cases at the moment. No one has caught it from supermarket or work or social occasion
      Since we have the isolated country advantage we should make the most of it without closing down the country completely – thats only useful in later stages when there is massive spread, and how do you open up again ?

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  18th March 2020

        The cost would be prohibitive; how can any business keep going without customers ?

        There’d be little point in areas where there are no cases, i.e. almost everywhere. It would kill the economy, I suspect, if the country shut down.

        Reply
  5. Alan Wilkinson

     /  18th March 2020

    Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern is reassuring New Zealanders there are plenty of tests available for whoever needs it

    Don’t believe that until they say a test is available to whoever wants it.

    NZ needs to run a keep it out and down strategy until a vaccine is available. Looks like that is 9-12 months at best. Should be investing with Australia in setting up capability to mass manufacture our own vaccine supply because there will be pressure from northern hemisphere to grab it all in their winter.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  18th March 2020

      There you go again…. ignoring good advice and substituting barmy ideas
      “director general of health, Ashley Bloomfield, has said that our current capacity is to do 770 tests each day and that should rise to 1,500 per day later this week”

      It would surprise me if they really needed more than ’50 per day for this week’ but self diagnosis by people who arent likely to have it might push it 10x that this week.
      In a month it might be different

      Reply
      • Alan Wilkinson

         /  18th March 2020

        Takes 2-3 days to get a result now in NZ How much longer if the numbers rise. Reportedly Wuhan was returning results in 4 hrs and there is a new Roche test FDA approvef that achieves that.

        A lot of infections can happen with a 2-3 day window and it’s pretty clear we have been doing insufficient testing.

        Reply
        • Duker

           /  18th March 2020

          Magic wandism again… vague ideas from Wuhan that you accept as gospel.
          Wonder never cease they are believable while our officials arent …its really an extension of Jacinda derangement syndrome that getting you to go there

          Reply
  6. NOEL

     /  18th March 2020

    That’s not entirely correct.
    Up to now the threshold has been epidemiological and symptoms
    Now there are cases with no link epidemiology is redundant.

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  18th March 2020

      What cases here have ‘no links’ ?

      ‘A Dunedin man, in his 40s, began to develop symptoms five days after returning from Europe, so there was no risk to others on the plane, Bloomfield said. He is now recovering at home in self isolation.His son, a student at Logan Park, also had symptoms, along with another family member.”-Stuff

      Reply
  7. Duker

     /  18th March 2020

    Good summary by Soiuxie Wiles at The Spinoff ( who seem to be quite good in current situation) and a handy symptoms chart but of course a few people might have symptons ‘they shouldnt have’ just from the way their body works
    https://thespinoff.co.nz/science/18-03-2020/siouxsie-wiles-how-testing-for-covid-19-works/

    “Here in New Zealand we have several labs around the country all set up to test for the Covid-19 coronavirus. The director general of health, Ashley Bloomfield, has said that our current capacity is to do 770 tests each day and that should rise to 1,500 per day later this week”

    Reply
  8. Zedd

     /  18th March 2020

    the one thing that is becoming clear; public hysteria, footage of folks ‘panic buying’ (thx to at least one Natl MP ?) & even fighting in supermarkets, over toilet paper.. how f@cking ridiculous people !

    btw; Ive had a sniffle for about a week, BUT I dont think its ‘corona virus’. There are now reported cases in Otepoti/Dn too, BUT more likely just a ‘common cold’ :/

    BUT: I did hear that MrT is calling it a ‘chinese disease’ & assuring Americans ‘Its all OK & it will just blow over in about a fortnight’ (paraphrased) Im sure some.. actually believe him (nnm) ??

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  18th March 2020

      Aaaghhhhh….keep away from me…..

      I have been wheezing badly ever since the fires sent their smoke across….

      The people who dramatise every cold into ‘the flu’ will be having a field day with this. Hysteria indeed.

      Reply
    • Pink David

       /  18th March 2020

      ” Ive had a sniffle for about a week, BUT I dont think its ‘corona virus’

      Dust off and nuke from orbit, it’s the only way to be safe.

      Reply
  9. adamsmith1922

     /  18th March 2020

    Too much happy talk from Ardern

    Reply
    • duperez

       /  18th March 2020

      Don’t be distracted by that. Repeat after me 1,000 times:

      “Things are bad and going to get worse, things are really bad and going to get worse, we are doomed, I’m going to die.”

      Saying that 5,000 times should cheer you up.

      Reply
  10. Not yet released but already online – US HHS report on COVID-19 (dd. March 13)

    One of they key assumptions is that the COVID-19 pandemic will last 18 months or longer and could involve multiple waves of illness.

    https://int.nyt.com/data/documenthelper/6819-covid-19-response-plan/d367f758bec47cad361f/optimized/full.pdf#page=1

    Reply
    • Kitty Catkin

       /  18th March 2020

      ‘It’s being so cheerful as keeps me going.’

      Reply
    • Alan Wilkinson

       /  18th March 2020

      “could” and “may” are the red flags warning of nonsense – so beloved of climate alarmists.

      Reply
      • Kitty Catkin

         /  18th March 2020

        You could be squashed crossing the road tomorrow…I may be. People are. But I won’t be refusing to walk around on the grounds that I might be run over by a bus.

        Reply
      • perhaps you could drop the identity politics for five minutes Alan and accept that COVID-19 is aan equal opportunity disease…

        “One of they key assumptions is that the COVID-19 pandemic will last 18 months or longer…”

        Reply
        • Pink David

           /  18th March 2020

          “an equal opportunity disease”

          That’s not true at all. It actively discriminates.

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  18th March 2020

            Last 18months?
            Based on what….until it’s a widespread vaccine being used, or an effective anti viral for the worst cases can be used from the dozens being trialled now.. of the deaths per year equals the numbers who die in in vehicle accidents, which might be very soon and means the panic ends.

            Reply
    • Just to be perfectly clear about what I have dropped here for you, this is the US federal government’s plan for responding to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic.

      Reply
  11. it warns that the pandemic “will last 18 months or longer” and could include “multiple waves,” resulting in widespread shortages that will strain consumers and America’s health care system.

    Boy that sure got out of hand quickly …

    Reply
    • Duker

       /  18th March 2020

      60,000 died in 2017/18 flu epidemic in US alone. That’s about 5 months…., True that was the worst for decades.
      What part of that got out of hand quickly?

      Reply
      • Duker

         /  18th March 2020

        600,000 or so die every year in US from cancer, 600,000 die every from heart disease….is that out hand?

        Reply
        • Those death rates have been happening and reducing for a long long time. A lot is being done to try to reduce them further.

          If left unchecked a virus can quickly kill huge numbers of people, like in 1918-19 where from 50 million to 200 million people died after the Spanish Flu (that originated in the US) swept around the world.

          That there are high death rates from other causes is a stupid reason not to try to contain new threats.

          Reply
          • Duker

             /  18th March 2020

            That may be so, but it’s the sheer quantum of deaths for other causes that A lot of people are blissfully unaware of.
            Even at 50,000 covid deaths, it’s really only a ‘blip’ in the big scheme of things.
            You can’t keep ignoring the 60,000 US flu deaths over 5-6 months 2 years back, who knew that viruses can kill so many and be surprised is a very Trump response…

            Reply
            • A lot of people die of a lot of things. There’s no way death can be prevented for anyone, sooner or later.

              Other ways of dying are irrelevant when there is a new viral threat, unless perhaps there’s some sort of conflict of priorities..

    • Duker

       /  18th March 2020

      Read a large part of the UCL paper which the story is based on . They assume the worst part of the Wuhan outbreak is replicated in the West…they assume 80%+ of the population will be infected…
      that’s when I gave up as the more recent study based on very reliable data from Diamond Princess has it the other way around 83% NOT infected based on actual testing of most of the 3700 people on board.
      That’s the trouble with these sorts of things …out of date very very quickly as it was estimated from the Wuhan situation

      Reply
  12. Coronavirus: Samoa’s first suspected case arrived on a flight from Auckland

    https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/coronavirus/120393001/coronavirus-samoas-first-suspected-case-arrived-on-a-flight-from-auckland

    Not good. But I guess the odds are on this happening, a lot of arrivals into Samoa will be from New Zealand.

    Reply
    • Corky

       /  18th March 2020

      The Islands will be where devastation will happen on a major scale if the virus gains a foothold. The concept of self isolation is not part of the Islands communal way of life.

      Reply
  13. oldlaker

     /  18th March 2020

    “Health Minister David Clark said hospitals were well prepared for an increase in cases…” yet we have only 176 ICU beds in the entire country.

    Reply

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