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COVID-19

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Just a day after the World Health Organization said the likelihood of an asymptomatic COVID-19 patient is "very rare," it backpedaled and clarified that the rate of transmission is still not clear.

Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the WHO's technical lead for the pandemic, made the comments Monday about the supposed "rare" transmission of the disease through those without symptoms. Her clarification came Tuesday following pushback from health experts around the globe.

Dr. Steven Stack, Kentucky's health commissioner, called the WHO's statement "premature."

Local health leaders in the Louisville area agree that the transmission rate might be lower, but they argue that guidelines and regulations shouldn't change for those without symptoms at this time.

"It was accurate for that one patient," U of L Health Dr. Forest Arnold said regarding a study where an asymptomatic patient contacted 400 individuals and did not transmit the disease. "It's just inaccurate to extrapolate it to several other, and all other, asymptomatic people."

Clark County Health Officer Dr. Eric Yazel said he believes that the asymptomatic patient rate of transmission is lower than patients with symptoms, but he admitted it's still too soon to pinpoint that data accurately.

"(WHO officials) probably overstepped on that and didn't want to throw precautions into the wind, and so they backtracked a little bit," Yazel said. "But I think the take home point is if you aren't symptomatic, your chances of transmitting are probably small."

Both in Indiana and Kentucky there are still new COVID-19 cases daily, but health officials said the numbers are trending in a positive direction. They added that it's that data that will impact guidelines and regulations moving forward regardless if asymptomatic patients are less likely to transmit the disease.

"I think we should just stay the course and let the data tell us where to go from here," Yazel said.

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