The World Health Organization (WHO) says countries should actively test people to find coronavirus cases, even if they have mild or no symptoms.
That’s despite the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and Prevention’s recently switched guidance to say asymptomatic contacts of cases don’t need to be tested.
Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO’s technical lead for the coronavirus, says when officials are investigating clusters of COVID-19, “testing may need to be expanded to look for individuals who are on the more mild end of the spectrum or who may indeed be asymptomatic.”
Van Kerkhove says countries were free to adapt their testing guidance for their individual needs and its critical how fast countries get results.
“What’s really important is that testing is used as an opportunity, to define active cases so that they can be isolated and so that contact tracing can also take place,” Van Kerkhove said. “This is really fundamental to breaking chains of transmission.”
Earlier in the pandemic, WHO recommend that countries focus on “testing, testing, testing.”
Van Kerkhove also says wearing masks alone to protect against the spread of the coronavirus isn’t enough, expressing concerns that people are growing too lax on maintaining physical distancing.
“So it’s not just masks alone. It’s not just physical distancing alone,” Van Kerkhove said. “It’s not just hand cleaning alone. Do it all.”