Covid-19: How is it transmitted?

A clear guideine as to how Covid-19 is transmitted, with special attention to asymptomatic and sumptomatic patients and the transmission rate
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Data provides evidence that COVID-19 is primarily transmitted from symptomatic people to others

  • who are in close contact through respiratory droplets
  • by direct contact with infected persons, or
  • by contact with contaminated objects and surfaces

Pre- symptomatic:

The incubation period for COVID-19, which is the time between exposure to the virus (becoming infected) and symptom onset, is on average 5-6 days, however, this period can take up to 14 days. During this period, also known as the “pre-symptomatic” period, some infected persons can be contagious. Therefore, transmission from a pre-symptomatic case can occur before symptom onset.


There are few reports of laboratory-confirmed cases who are truly asymptomatic, and to date, there has been no documented asymptomatic transmission. This does not exclude the
possibility that it may occur. Asymptomatic cases have been reported as part of contact tracing efforts in some countries. The proportion of asymptomatic carriers is currently unknown.

Reproductive number

According to the WHO, the reproductive number (R) for the virus is approximately 2.2 (meaning that on average each person spreads the infection to two others). In South Africa, the reproductive number was 1.33 at the start of the pandemic and rose to its highest in April 2020, to 1.5. The NICD reported an R of 1.1. on 26 August 2020, indicating a decline in the number of new cases and the slowing down of COVID-19 transmissions.

View our other articles on Covid-19 and PMB Level of care or Covid-19 in general.

Source: This information is sourced directly from Council of Medical Schemes website, and their document titled PMB definition guideline: COVID-19 v5 and does not rely on our own independent research

Image: “coronavirus-covid-19” by Nursing Schools Near Me is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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