Up to 80% of COVID-19 infections are asymptomatic, new case report says

San Francisco park-goers lie in social distancing circles at Dolores Park amid the coronavirus outbreak on Memorial Day weekend. (Photo: Liu Guanguan/China News Service via Getty Images)

(Jamie Ducharme/ Time) — In one cruise-ship coronavirus outbreak, more than 80% of people who tested positive for COVID-19 did not show any symptoms of the disease, according to a new paper published in the journal Thorax.

The research shows just how prevalent asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19 may be—a reality that both suggests official case counts are drastic underestimates, and emphasizes the importance of practicing social distancing even if you feel healthy.

Researchers have known for months that asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19 is possible and common, but without population-wide testing, it’s been difficult to estimate how many people get infected without showing symptoms. The new paper provides an example of how widespread asymptomatic transmission can be, at least in a contained environment. (…)

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