WHO says the coronavirus can spread one to three days before symptoms start

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World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a press conference in Geneva, Switzerland, on March 11, 2020.

Chen Junxia | Xinhua via Getty

World Health Organization officials said the coronavirus can spread in asymptomatic patients, about one to three days before symptoms start.

“It’s very important to note that even if you are pre-symptomatic, you still have to transmit through droplets. You still have to have these infectious particles that come out of your nose and mouth,” Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO’s team lead on the coronavirs, said at a press conference from the organizations Geneva headquarters on Monday.

She said models of the outbreak suggest that there are “large numbers of unrecognized transmission.” She emphasized those are unrecognized patients, not asymptomatic.

” I’m saying we may be missing people who are out there who are infected but we’re missing them because of certain surveillance strategies,” she said. 

Dr. Mike Ryan, the WHO’s executive director for emergencies program, said there may be more people who are “infected unknowingly.”

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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