The World Health Organisation insisted that people exposed to COVID-19 should be tested for the virus even if they do not show immediate symptoms of infection.
The WHO epidemiologist and COVID-19 Technical Lead, Maria Van Kerkhove, disclosed this during a news briefing in Geneva, noting that the UN health agency recommended that suspected cases and their contacts be tested, if possible, but that the focus should be more on those displaying signs of infection.
“Our recommendations are to test suspected cases, and we have definitions for those.
“We have definitions of contacts, and who contacts are of confirmed cases, and make recommendations that contacts, if feasible, should be tested regardless of the development of symptoms.
“The focus, though, is on those that do develop symptoms,” she said.
Dr. Mike Ryan, head of the WHO Health Emergencies Programme, explained that there was a rationale for testing asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic people, particularly in areas where clusters of infections were emerging, but noted that broad population testing was costly and unrealistic.
“It absorbs huge amounts of resources. So we need to focus on testing the right individuals, we need to focus on maximizing the testing in the clusters, and we need to focus on the quality of the testing, and the speed of the turnaround,” said Ryan.