At the same time, only 4% of infected people show symptoms of the disease
As the leadership of American prisons begins mass testing of prisoners for the coronavirus, it turns out that the vast majority of infected prisoners do not have any symptoms of the disease. In four prisons in Arkansas, North Carolina, Ohio, and Virginia, mass testing identified 3,277 infected prisoners, with 96% showing no symptoms of COVID-19. This is stated in the results of the research obtained by Reuters.
These figures are further evidence that people who do not have symptoms of the new coronavirus can contribute to its spread not only in prisons but also around the world. This also suggests that testing exclusively for people with symptoms may not reflect the real picture of infection and the spread of the virus.
As Annette chambers-Smith, Director of the Ohio Department of rehabilitation and correction, told Reuters in an interview, the first mass testing of prisoners was conducted at the Marion correctional facility, where 2,500 prisoners are held. Of the 2,300 people tested, the coronavirus was detected in the vast majority – 2,028, and 95% of them did not have any symptoms of the disease.
According to Dr. Leana Wen, an associate Professor of disaster medicine at George Washington University, this indicates that “a serious number of [coronavirus] cases have not been accounted for in the US]… The number of cases [of infection] is probably much higher than we currently know due to the lack of testing and surveillance,” says Dr. Wen.
According to the researchers, later symptoms of the disease may appear in some of the so-called asymptomatic patients whose test results were positive.
Mass inspections were also conducted in Tennessee and Michigan. In both States, authorities said that in most of the detected cases of coronavirus infection, prisoners did not show symptoms.
Reuters reporters interviewed the management of all prison systems in each of the American States. Of the 30 who responded to the Agency’s request, the majority reported that only prisoners who showed symptoms are currently being tested, suggesting that the number of people in prisons infected with coronavirus is significantly underestimated.
According to experts, this circumstance complicates the fight against the coronavirus pandemic, since the disease does not manifest itself in most people who are infected with it.