GENEVA – The World Health Organization said on Thursday that countries should actively test for coronavirus cases even if people show no symptoms, a stance taken after the health agency of The United States changed its policy and stated that it is not necessary to test asymptomatic contacts of infected people.
At a press conference, Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical manager for Covid-19, pointed out that when the authorities are investigating Covid-19 outbreaks, "it may be necessary to expand testing to look for individuals on the milder end of the spectrum or who may be asymptomatic."
However, according to the new guideline from the Centers for Control and the United States Disease Prevention (CDC), it is not necessary to test those who have had close contact with infected people and who do not feel sick. The agency had previously recommended that local health authorities test those who have been within 6 feet or less of an infected person for more than 15 minutes.
Van Kerkhove said countries were free to adapt the guidelines of the WHO to carry out tests on their own needs, and that although the tests are important in themselves, it is equally crucial to have the results quickly.
"What is really important is that the tests are used as an opportunity to define active cases in order to be able to isolate them and follow up on contact tracing, "he said. "This is really essential to break the chains of contagion."
Van Kerkhove also expressed that he is "a little concerned" that the use of masks makes some people believe that they do not need to keep a safe distance from others.  "We are seeing that people are no longer observing physical distancing," Van Kerkhove stated. "Even if you wear a mask, you still need to maintain the physical distance of at least one meter and even more if possible."
Also on Thursday, the WHO chief for Europe, Dr. Hans Kluge, warned that the coronavirus is a "long-tailed tornado" and that the increase in the number of cases among young people could reach older people, who are more vulnerable, and cause an increase in mortality figures.
He noted that it is more likely that the Young people come into closer contact with the elderly as the cold reaches Europe and families move their activities to the interior.