The World Health Organization (WHO) on Thursday said that people, who are in any way exposed to the novel coronavirus, should be tested even if they do not show immediate symptoms of infection.
The development comes after last week's comments of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), stating that people exposed to COVID-19 but are asymptomatic may not need to undergo testing. It was alleged that the move was politically motivated.
During the new briefing, WHO epidemiologist, Maria Van Kerkhove said that although the UN agency has directed suspected cases and their contacts to be tested, however, the focus should be on people displaying signs of infection.
"Our recommendations are to test suspect cases, and we have definitions for those. We have definitions of contacts, and who contacts are of confirmed cases, and make recommendations that contacts, if feasible, should be tested regardless of the development of symptoms," Reuters quoted Kerkhove as saying.
"The focus, though, is on those that do develop symptoms," she added.
Mike Ryan, head of WHO's emergencies programme further added that there was a reason for testing asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic people, especially where clusters of infections were surging, but it is to be noticed that broad population testing was costly and unrealistic, as it absorbs exorbitant resources.
Therefore, testing the right individuals becomes all the more important, along with focusing on maximizing the testing in the clusters as well as the quality of the testing.
Addressing the press, Director-general of the organisation Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that the agency is organising to travel to China to investigate the virus's origin would go to Wuhan, where the first infections were detected late last year. In July, a team of experts had visited Beijing for the same.