Two studies published this week suggest that asymptomatic COVID-19 infections may be even more prevalent than previously thought, thus highlighting the importance of practicing social distancing measures even when one feels healthy.

The first study, which was published Wednesday by Chinese researchers in the journal JAMA Network Open, found that 42% of a sample group of COVID-19 patients in Wuhan, China, were asymptomatic. The study involved 78 COVID-19 positive patients who were exposed to the Hunan seafood market where the virus is believed to have originated or had close contact with patients who were infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

The 78 patients “were hospitalized in [the] same medical area and provided the same treatments administered by the same health care workers.” The researchers found that 33 patients (42.3%) were asymptomatic, while the remaining 45 patients showed symptoms such as fever, fatigue and a dry cough. The study also found that asymptomatic patients were more likely to be younger women in their 20s, 30s or early 40s.

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