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People who have coronavirus without any symptoms are driving the spread because they carry just as much of the virus, experts have warned.
Researchers in South Korea said people infected without symptoms have "comparable potential" to spread than those with them.
Symptoms include fever, a new and persistent cough and a new loss or change of taste or smell.
Professor Sung-Han Kim said the study urged the use of face masks among the general public.
His study evaluated how much of the virus both groups were carrying. Of 213 patients without severe symptoms, 19 per cent were asymptomatic.
The study, published in the journal Thorax, reads "Asymptomatic individuals were frequent among those infected with SARS-CoV-2, but harboured a comparable viral load compared with that of symptomatic patients and may thus act as a meaningful driving force for the community spread of Covid-19.
"The viral load was similar between asymptomatic individuals and symptomatic patients.
"This suggests that asymptomatic with a Sars-CoV-2 infection have a comparable potential for spreading the virus as symptomatic patients.
"Our data add further support to the general public use of face masks, regardless of the presence of symptoms, and suggest that the scope of SARS-CoV-2 testing should be expanded to include asymptomatic individuals in high-risk settings, such as nursing homes or healthcare facilities."
Family horrified to find body of Covid victim relative 'nibbled by rats' in hospital
On Tuesday, UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a string of new measures to deal with a spike in Covid-19 cases.
Pubs and restaurants will have to close by 10pm, and people not wearing masks and coverings can be fined £200.
People have also been urged to work from home if they can.
- Boris Johnson
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