The average incubation period for COVID-19 may be longer than a week, according to new data from more than 1,000 people who contracted the new coronavirus in Wuhan, China. The incubation period of a disease is the time between infection and the emergence of symptoms. Although it varies from person to person, understanding the average incubation period of an infectious disease is critical to controlling it.
Authorities use the incubation period to determine the length of quarantine, for instance, as well as to understand how the disease is transmitted and to identify the source of the outbreak. For COVID-19, current estimates of the incubation period are in the region of 4–5 days. However, there is some uncertainty around these estimates due to the novelty of the disease and the fact that only a limited number of studies have tried to establish the incubation period.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) have now led a study that has allowed researchers to formulate a new, longer estimate for the COVID-19 incubation period. Using a dataset of people who contracted the virus in Wuhan, China, they found that the median incubation period for the disease was 7.76 days. The study features in Science Advances and is based on the largest number of patients to date.
The researchers used data from 1,084 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Wuhan, the center of the outbreak. They followed presymptomatic people from the time they left Wuhan until their symptoms developed.
The researchers obtained the data from public databases belonging to health commissions in China and the ministries of health in other countries. Information on confirmed cases included regional information, gender, age, date of symptom onset, date of diagnosis, history of travel, and date of departure from Wuhan………. Continue Reading……