Category Archives: Social and Cultural

How to Limit Asymptomatic and Pre-Symptomatic Transmission of COVID-19

While the world grapples with COVID-19, there has been some good news with several countries reporting work on capacity building for eventual vaccines and vaccine testing trials.  China, at the time of writing, had reported a peak and decline of new infections.  Meanwhile some of the hardest hit nations in the EU also reported a drop in new cases.  How long can this last?  That is a question based on whether countries can find and deal with pre-symptomatic and asymptomatic carriers of the virus.

Most of the attention on COVID-19 has been towards curtailing the virus by self-isolation and medical treatment for symptomatic cases.  Yet the virus can also spread through asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic transmission.  The former, where an individual has the virus but shows no symptoms at all throughout the entire infection, is rare.  The individual who is pre-symptomatic shows no overt symptoms or mild symptoms that are ignored or underreported.  For those with allergies to pollen, for example, might report headache, watery eyes, stuffy nose, and other symptoms that are typical of allergy season, but some of which are also symptoms of the COVID virus.  If that individual typically has seasonal allergies, they might misidentify their symptoms and either provide a false positive case or go unreported until after full on symptoms force medical attention.

While an individual may show no symptoms, they are still infectious if they have the virus.  In fact, this is probably the primary means of infection in the case of China, where the virus started grabbing global attention.  One study estimated that 86% of cases in country were a result of infection by individuals who did not report symptoms.  Individuals who do not know they have symptoms can transmit the virus in much the same way symptomatic individuals do- by droplets.  The different is that pre-symptomatic carriers transmit by respiratory droplets, the fine mist and spittle that comes from vocalizations like singing and talking.  One study by the CDC looked at pre-symptomatic transmissions in Singapore and found that 10 such cases accounted for 6.4% of 157 cases in country.

The contamination could also occur by environment such as someone infected who uses a public facility or objects that spend lots of time close to the mouth.  Cellphones are one prime example- they are close to the mouth when someone is talking, and those with touchscreens are exposed to whatever the face and hands touch.

With this in mind, countries around the world have been trying to find ways to detect the virus.  The early nucleic acid tests had the problem of false readings and an error rate of anywhere between 30% and 50%.  The cause of these errors could have been the inability of the test to detect viral load levels due to sample sizes, testing complexity and error, or timing.  The current best testing method, PCR testing, still has a success rate of 80-85% in detecting the virus and had to be refined as the process itself is often multistage and requires lots of attention.

This gives some insights to the reports of potential reinfection and false negatives in China regarding their testing and subsequent reports of problems with exported tests.  At the beginning of the global pandemic, China had developed means to test for the virus, but was still uncovering new information about the virus and refining their methods.  Early tests were designed with imperfect information, giving rise to higher error rates.  Yet they were still focusing largely on symptomatic cases and not on asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic cases, which factored into the spread of the virus.

Another issue is that immunity to the virus is not known for sure.  Scientists studying SARS and MERS, both from the same viral family as COVID-19, found that SARS recovery provided immunity for up to a few years while MERS recovery provided protection for only a year.  As COVID-19 is recently been studied, it’s still undetermined whether someone gains immunity or for how long.  In some cases, it might not have been a false reading by reinfection that accounts for individuals recovering and getting infected again.

In summary, COVID-19 is most likely to spread due to pre-symptomatic transmission in which people who have the virus are not aware of it because they show either no signs or mild symptoms that could be mistaken for other ailments.  Current tests may provide false readings because of issues with sampling, operator error, or timing.  Lastly, for medical providers and professionals this is a threat to their ability to fight the virus as they could either miss potential carriers or become carriers themselves.

One way to fight the virus is to spend as little time around people so as to not catch or spread the virus.  The self-isolation is one way to help.  Yet this is a luxury those who work in the service sector and other customer facing jobs cannot afford.  Here the wearing of face masks is essential because it stops the transmission of the virus through droplets, whether formed in a sneeze or from respiratory activities.  Whether healthy or infected, this measure can help in limiting the potential for infection.  Lastly, donating needed supplies for first responders and medical professionals, such as N95 masks and other personal protection equipment is essential to keeping the rate of infection and transmissions down for both patients and medical staff.  I would add here that paying attention to how local government and hospitals utilize resources is highly important to morale and effective use of resources.  Many of our medical professionals are taking on extra shifts, being forced to go without needed supplies, and have their own health to be concerned about in addition to all those they help daily.  Its a difficult time for everyone, especially those who are on the front lines of this viral pandemic.


  • Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds,
  • Stay inside if you can,
  • Use cloth masks and face coverings that wrap around the mouth and nose
  • Stay at least 6 ft away from others
  • Sanitize surfaces that are often touched, including your smartphones
  • Be considerate of those required to come to work in grocery stores and other essential services
  • Donate supplies to the hospitals and keep an eye on local government to ensure they are properly supplying our medical professionals
  • Even if you feel fine, treat yourself as if you could spread the virus and take precautions

There you have it.  Pre-symptomatic and Asymptomatic transmission of COVID-19 can be limited if greater attention is paid to limiting the vectors for transmission.  Many of these things are within individual ability to control, just assume that you can be infectious and act to avoid spreading the virus to others.

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Filed under Coronavirus, Social and Cultural, Technology and Proto Types

Activities for When You’re Indoors

Hi all,

There are plenty of things to do while self-isolating due to the COVID-19 virus.  Here are a list of things to do to fight off boredom while indoors.

Virtual Tours, Concerts, Operas, and other digital tools to help you stay sane during the quarantine:

  1. UNESCO World Heritage sites you can visit online and take virtual tours in. Perfect for taking a “field trip” in your own home without air faire or passports.
  2. Concerts, Museums, and even Operas you can attend virtual and free.
  3. Beaches, Zoos, Wildlife Reserves, National Parks, and 38 total virtual enabled vacations and trips!
  4. More World Heritage sites from UNESCO, these sites are in the North Rhine-Westphalia.
  5. Want to visit Buckingham Palace and other lovely houses and residences? Here’s your ticket!
  6. Visit Smithsonian museums in Washington DC without the hassle of actually going down I-495. Features 68 collections to enjoy!
  7. Overlapping, but here are more museums and culture locations to visit online.
  8. Have a casino night with friends here.


Classes to take while you wait for the day you can visit the university again:

This has 450 university courses for free and from reputable universities!

Exercises you can do indoors with body weight:

This is a 30-day full body workout plan with videos for exercises you can do.

For Parents:

Here are two articles for how to survive working from home with kids.

From Fast Company, and the Wire Cutter.

For the parents reading this, here are things to do with the kids and keep your sanity while indoors:

  1. Here are 125 ideas of things to do with the kids, such as making cardboard forts and visiting Yellowstone virtually, or even train the dog.
  2. Here are 100 more activities to try out, many of which as DIY art activities such as making your own chalk and soap. Some overlap with the first entry.
  3. Virtual Disney roller-coaster rides!
  4. Music for the whole family, everything from teaching yourself to music from the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and Broadway. Mostly free, though some have a free trial period.
  5. Free educational games for kids from GoNoodle.
  6. Levar Burton reading stories for both kids and adults. By the way, its livestreamed!
  7. More educational activities for kids, several sites that are STEM focused.
  8. Naturecams, exercise activities, educational resources, and more from the good folks in Monaco.

For Pets, furbabies, and other family members of an inter-species household:

  1. From PETA, information to help entertain your pets.
  2. From the American Veterinary Medical Association, information on the health of pets.
  3. Youtube content for Dogs, and possibly cats.
  4. Dog TV on Youtube. This is special programming tailored for dogs.
  5. Cat game of catching fish, hosted by Youtube.


Lastly, relaxation in calm activities:

  1. A coral reef aquarium, just watching the coral and the fish. No music, like being underwater.
  2. Beach front in Dominica, like being on the beach during a summer day with nothing to worry about. Here is one with animals in the distance.  This one is for if you really just want to hear the waves crashing on the beach.
  3. Walking through the forest. Plenty of natural scenery, but does not scroll.
  4. Classic fireplace scene with burning log. This is a campfire with birdsong.
  5. Walking the streets of Manhattan in the rain. Or East Shinjuku, Tokyo.
  6. A run through Wailea Beach, in Maui, Hawaii.
  7. A bike ride through Venice Beach, in Santa Monica, California.


Helpful links for peace of mind and the latest information about dealing with COVID-19:


Taiwan’s CDC (They acted early and gathered as much detail as possible, and have resources for tracking potential infection under the Guidelines section).


For Mental Health:

For everyone really, and for kids specifically, and for our furry family members.


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Filed under Coronavirus, Projects, Social and Cultural

News at Noon- China Today

Hi all,

Here are some news stories I have been reading for today that I think would be interesting.

From China,

Despite reopening, many Chinese firms are facing layoffs, pay cuts, and uncertain export conditions as other countries combat COVID-19.  Even while China reports no new cases at home, they are dealing with how other countries fight the virus in terms of policies such as quarantines, country lockdowns, and canceled orders as domestic capital and resources go to fight the virus.

Domestically, authorities in Hubei have lifted the lockdown on the providence and are now allowing people to move through the region where the majority of the COVID-19 cases in China actually took place.  Wuhan is still under lockdown, but residents in Xianning are undergoing fast response testing before they can leave the city.  This measure is meant to prevent the virus from transmitting and reflects a larger domestic effort by authorities to prevent another outbreak.

In addition to a 344 billion dollar stimulus to fight the economic impact of the virus, authorities are also placing restrictions on incoming and outgoing flights. Those coming in from abroad to Shanghai will be placed in quarantine for 14 days, meanwhile incoming flights have been limited to one route and one flight per week as of March 29th.  The reason for these measures is to combat COVID-19 infection from abroad, as new Covid cases came from overseas travelers.  Most of these cases were of Chinese passport carriers coming back to China.

In a nutshell, China is fighting new COVID-19 cases from abroad by limiting the ability of the virus to spread, specifically by targeting travel and movement in regions where the virus was first reported in country and from other parts of the world currently affected by COID-19.  The impact of the virus is economically felt both from slowdowns in country and loss of business overseas as other countries repurpose their resources to fight the virus.


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Filed under East Asia, Economics, Social and Cultural