One in four residents of New York City – or 2.1 million people – have been infected with the novel coronavirus, according to the state Governor Andrew Cuomo.
The number is far higher than the 291,996 cases officially recorded and it means the other 1.8 million people were asymptomatic – did not show symptoms – or had only mild symptoms.
Cuomo said on Monday that the 24.1 per cent estimate of the people infected with COVID-19 was based on anti-body testing for the presence of virus-fighters in the bloodstream that would show that a person has had the disease.
The higher number, however, does not figure in the national total of 988,451 cases as of Monday night as it is only an estimate calculated on the basis of a sample study.
On April 23, Cuomo had put the number of New Yorkers who had been infected at about one in five or 22.1 per cent based on a sample of 3,000 people.
He said the estimate had been increased after 4,500 more samples were taken around the city brining the total to 7,500, “a very significant number” that “gives us a snapshot of where we are”.
The estimate shows the high risk of the huge number of silent carriers of the coronavirus spreading the disease.
The higher number also lowers the death rate of the infected people.
The larger number of people who have recovered from COVID-19 could influence decisions on opening up the city and state as according to some scientists they may have developed immunity to the disease.
The World Health Organization has said that there was no evidence that those who have had COVID-19 were immune to it.
Cuomo said the state would provide anti-body tests to all medical personnel and front-line workers like police and transportation personnel to find out if they have had it and may be immune to it.