Covid-19

Asymptomatic Patient Infects Neighbor Without Meeting, Sharing Same Space

A woman who self-quarantined after returning to the U.S. surprisingly transmitted COVID-19 to a neighbor who never saw her during isolation. The case even led to a series of coronavirus infections in the community that baffled researchers.

A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that an elevator played a role in the transmission of the coronavirus. Researchers said it could easily expose people to the virus even if an infected person doesn't ride with anyone else, Business Insider reported.

The woman returned to the U.S. from Heilongjiang province in China on March 19. She did not show any symptoms of COVID-19 but volunteered to isolate in her apartment and avoid any close contact with other residents.

During her quarantine, an antibody test revealed she was an asymptomatic coronavirus carrier. The patient never moved close to any person in their building but three weeks after her arrival, a downstairs neighbor and four of its close contacts contracted COVID-19.

The CDC study shows that the neighbor likely caught the coronavirus by using the elevator in the building after the asymptomatic woman had ridden it. Her neighbor possibly touched the same surfaces and buttons contaminated with droplets carrying the virus. 

People with COVID-19 can release the virus into the air and surfaces through droplets when they cough, sneeze or simply talk.  Other people can then get the coronavirus by touching contaminated objects and then putting their hands on their mouth, nose or eyes. 

Studies showed that the virus could survive on stainless steel and plastic for up to seven days. These materials are commonly found in elevators.

From An Elevator To 71-Person Cluster

The coronavirus did not stop in the woman’s downstairs neighbor. The infection even started a chain reaction in their community. 

A week after the traveler returned home, the infected neighbor hosted her mother and her mother's boyfriend for an overnight stay. Three days later, the mother and boyfriend attended a party. On April 10, six people tested positive for coronavirus. 

One patient suffered from a stroke before his COVID-19 testing. He went to a hospital where his sons cared for him, whom a few days later also tested positive. 

The three of them unknowingly transmitted the virus to 28 other people, including staff and other patients, in the hospital. The father moved to a second hospital and caused another series of infections, which ended with 70 people with COVID-19 by mid-April.

Researchers said all those infections can be traced back to the neighbor's case. Scientists from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the findings after testing virus samples from the patients and they were nearly identical.

"Our results illustrate how a single asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection could result in widespread community transmission," researchers stated in the CDC study. 

Coronavirus & COVID-19 An artist's representation of the novel coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease. Pixabay

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