A HOMELESS shelter in the US has reported 146 confirmed cases of coronavirus – but not a single person had any symptoms.
The latest figures in Boston, Massachusetts, come as US President Donald Trump prepares to reopen the economy.
The results, described as “eye-opening”, could raise questions about the true number of coronavirus cases worldwide.
The number of positive cases represents 36 percent of the 397 people at the Pine Street Inn homeless shelter who were tested, Boston 25 News reports.
It is understood that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now looking into the results.
Dr. Jim O’Connell, president of the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, told the news station that the situation was like a “double knockout punch”.
He added: “The number of positives was shocking to us, but then the fact that 100 percent of the positives had no symptoms was equally shocking.”
However, one person who had initially tested positive with no symptoms subsequently required hospital care.
The people with confirmed cases were transported to temporary isolation facilities in the city, Boston 25 News reports, where “many” are still not showing any symptoms.
Testing at the shelter was carried out over a week ago following reports of a “small cluster” of cases.
Reporter Drew Karedes said it was the first time that an entire homeless shelter in the US had been tested.
Lyndia Downie, president and executive director at the Pine Street Inn, told the station: “I think there are so many asymptomatic people right now.”
And Marty Martinez, Boston’s chief of Health and Human Services, said that more universal testing is expected to be carried out at other homeless shelters throughout the city.
In Massachusetts, there were 2,263 new coronavirus cases yesterday, bringing the total to 32,181.
And there were 137 new deaths, bringing the total to 1,245.
It is widely reported to be the third worst-affected state in the US in terms of confirmed cases, behind New York and New Jersey.
The term “asymptomatic” refers to people who have caught an illness but are showing no symptoms of having it.
UK health information site Patient.info says it’s possible that “a large proportion of the population” will have Covid-19 but be asymptomatic, and that such occurrences would be more likely in healthy people and younger age groups, such as children.
This is where antibody testing comes in. Antibody tests can confirm whether someone has had a virus such as Covid-19 in the past, even if they never showed any symptoms and no longer have it.
It is not known how many cases of Covid-19 don’t show any symptoms, with some early studies suggesting it could be between 40 and 50 percent of cases, while other figures as high as 80 percent have been mentioned, patient.info adds.
The UK government has said that it wants to be conducting 100,000 Covid-19 tests every day by the end of this month.
But the BBC reports that the current numbers are only around 16,000.
The government has reportedly bought 3.5 million antibody tests, but the tests are currently being evaluated to determine how accurate they are.
Meanwhile, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab yesterday announced that the UK’s lockdown will be extended for three weeks.
He said that the country’s infection rate was not yet low enough for restrictions to be relaxed.
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