The new coronavirus, or COVID-19, can be spread by people who are not exhibiting symptoms, confirmed the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) on Thursday.
Dr. Robert Redfield, the director, said that asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19 is possible. Several Chinese medical officials have said the virus, which is believed to have sickened tens of thousands, made similar comments over the past several weeks as the virus spreads.
“There’s been good communication with our colleagues to confirm asymptomatic infection, to confirm asymptomatic transmission, to be able to get a better handle on the clinical spectrum of illness in China. What we don’t know though is how much of the asymptomatic cases are driving transmission,” he told CNN in an interview.
Redfield said that some confirmed COVID-19 patients had “a little sore throat” and nothing more, highlighting how difficult it is to detect the virus.
“What I’ve learned in the last two weeks is that the spectrum of this illness is much broader than was originally presented. There’s much more asymptomatic illness,” he told the news outlet.
In the same interview, the top CDC official said U.S. experts have still not been allowed in China to help with the virus outbreak despite numerous offers. Redfield said that as a result, there is still much that American officials aren’t aware of.
“There’s a lot of information we don’t know—that’s why I offered to provide assistance, direct assistance, and send our CDC folks over there back on Jan. 6 to really help them gather that information and also to help us see the information first hand that we need to help make the right public health recommendations for our nation,” Redfield said.
White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow offered similar sentiments, accusing the Chinese regime of a “lack of transparency” in reporting the virus.
“We’re disappointed that we haven’t been invited in,” Kudlow told reporters at the White House on Thursday. “We’re a little bit disappointed about the lack of transparency.”
As of Thursday, there are 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States, including eight in California, two in Illinois, one in Texas, one in Massachusetts, one in Wisconsin, one in Arizona, and one in Washington state.
Earlier this week, 195 people who were quarantined on a military base in Southern California were released after being medically isolated for two weeks. Officials declared them coronavirus-free.