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As the Indian economy is taking gradual steps towards opening up again amidst the pandemic, state governments have put multiple checks upon those who are travelling. In India, at this point, most of the states have a 14-day institutional or home quarantine system, keeping in mind the incubation period of the disease. However, the said estimate of the period of incubation might just be more than what we had thought.
Recent research, published in the journal Science Advances says that the incubation period of covid-19—the time after which infected individuals start showing the first symptoms—could be as much as eight days which is longer than the previous estimate of 5 days.
The study identified pre-symptomatic individuals at their time of departure from the Wuhan, China, the epicentre of covid-19, and kept a track of these infected people until their symptoms developed.
According to Chong You and the other the scientists from Peking University, China, the reason why existing estimates for the incubation period were that of around five days is that they were based on small samples sizes, limited data, and self-reports. They believe this data could be biased by the memory or judgement of the patient or interviewer.
This study involved the maximum number of participants till date, wherein they developed a low-cost approach to estimate incubation periods, and applied it to 1,084 confirmed cases of covid-19 that had known travel histories or residency in Wuhan.
This method relies on a public database for dates of infection and uses statistical methods to avoid having to deal with the inaccurate recollection of past events, which makes the study more accurate. The researchers calculated that the average incubation period was 7.75 days, with 10% of the patients showing an incubation period of 14.28 days.
The researchers said that the findings may concern health authorities that have been relying upon the standard 14-day quarantine. However, they state that this approach is based upon several assumptions and may not be applicable to later cases in different parts of the world where the virus may have mutated.
(With inputs from PTI)