The coronavirus can be spread from person to person before someone realizes they even have it, according to the Chinese health minister

Travellers wearing face masks as a precautionary measure to protect against the possible spread of a SARS-like virus outbreak walk in the arrivals area at Hong Kong International Airport ahead of the Chinese New Year in Hong Kong on January 23, 2020. - Hong Kong has turned two holiday camps, including a former military barracks, into quarantine zones for people who may have come into contact with carriers of the Wuhan virus, officials announced on January 23. The international financial hub has been on high alert for the virus, which has killed 17 people since the outbreak started in central China.

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Travellers wearing face masks as a precautionary measure to protect against the possible spread of a SARS-like virus outbreak walk in the arrivals area at Hong Kong International Airport ahead of the Chinese New Year in Hong Kong on January 23, 2020. – Hong Kong has turned two holiday camps, including a former military barracks, into quarantine zones for people who may have come into contact with carriers of the Wuhan virus, officials announced on January 23. The international financial hub has been on high alert for the virus, which has killed 17 people since the outbreak started in central China.
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VIVEK PRAKASH/AFP via Getty Images)
  • A person who contracts the Wuhan coronavirus could be asymptomatic for 1 to 14 days and not even know they have the virus, according to China’s National Health Commission Minister Ma Xiaowei.
  • During that two-week incubation period, a person could infect someone else with the virus.
  • The flu, chickenpox, and common cold are other viral infections that can be spread before a person realizes they’re infected themself.
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A person with the Wuhan coronavirus could be infectious to others before they know they have the virus, according to China’s National Health Commission Minister Ma Xiaowei.

At a Sunday press conference, Ma said someone with the virus could show no symptoms they have the coronavirus anytime between a day and 14 days, CBS News previously reported. During that time, an asymptomatic person is also infectious and could spread the coronavirus to others, Ma said, which makes it difficult to stop its spread.

Coronavirus symptoms include nasal congestion, headache, cough, sore throat, and a fever, according to infectious disease expert and University of California San Francisco professor Charles Chiu.

“At present, the rate of development of the epidemic is accelerating,” Ma said at the press conference. “I am afraid that it will continue for some time, and the number of cases may increase.”

The virus, which originated in Wuhan, China, has killed 56 people and infected more than 2,000, Reuters reported on Sunday.

Although officials have quarantined Wuhan and some other neighboring cities, the virus has spread to at least 12 other countries: Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam, Singapore, Nepal, France, Australia, Malaysia, Canada, and the US.

Currently, there are no tests designed to detect this exact coronavirus strain, since ‘coronavirus’ refers to a family of viruses that cause common colds, Chiu said, and current coronavirus tests that doctors use can’t detect the Wuhan coronavirus strain.

Someone who gets a coronavirus could have minor symptoms and develop a flu or develop a more severe or life-threatening condition like pneumonia.

Others viruses are infectious before symptoms appear

The Wuhan coronavirus isn’t the only viral infection that is infectious before a person shows symptoms.

According to the National Health Service in the UK, chickenpox, the common cold, and the flu are all infectious multiple days before a person with the virus shows any symptoms, like a rash in the case of chickenpox or a fever for the flu.