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 Less than 10 per cent of people infected with the novel coronavirus in Brazil were asymptomatic and the majority of those who tested positive for the Covid-19 respiratory disease had mild symptoms, a survey of almost 90,000 people from all regions showed this week.

According to the epidemiological research funded by Brazil’s Health Ministry and carried out by the Federal University of Pelotas in the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul, people who tested positive for the virus showed five main symptoms: fever, cough, alteration of smell/taste, body pain and headache.

A total of 2,064 of 89,387 people surveyed between May 14 and June 24 in three phases tested positive for antibodies, of whom 91 per cent showed symptoms of Covid-19.

“The literature has become accustomed to saying that most patients are asymptomatic. Our study suggests that most patients have mild symptoms, but are not asymptomatic,” Pedro Hallal, professor at the Federal University of Pelotas and coordinator of the research, said at a news conference.

The research also showed the pace of transmission slowing over the course of the three phases of the study. After growing 53 per cent from late May to early June, the transmission rate slowed to 23 per cent from early June to the end of the same month, Hallal said.

The survey also corroborates some experts’ claims that the outbreak in Brazil is much larger than the official figures suggest, with the difference between the number of confirmed cases and the percentage of the population with antibodies as much as six times in the areas surveyed.

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