29 October 2020
It is difficult to identify suspected cases of atypical patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), and data on severe or critical patients are scanty. This retrospective study presents the clinical, laboratory, and radiological profiles, treatments, and outcomes of atypical COVID-19 patients without respiratory symptoms or fever at onset. The study examined ten atypical patients out of 909 severe or critical patients diagnosed with COVID-19 in Wuhan Union Hospital West Campus between 25 January 2020 and 10 February 2020. Data were obtained from the electronic medical records of severe or critical patients without respiratory symptoms or fever at onset. Outcomes were followed up to discharge or death. Among 943 COVID-19 patients, 909 (96.4%) were severe or critical type. Of the severe or critical patients, ten (1.1%) presented without respiratory symptoms or fever at admission. The median age of the ten participants was 63 years (interquartile range (IQR): 57–72), and seven participants were men. The median time from symptom onset to admission was 14 d (IQR: 7–20). Eight of the ten patients had chronic diseases. The patients had fatigue ( n = 5), headache or dizziness ( n = 4), diarrhea ( n = 5), anorexia ( n = 3), nausea or vomiting ( n = 3), and eye discomfort ( n = 1). Four patients were found to have lymphopenia. Imaging examination revealed that nine patients had bilateral pneumonia and one had unilateral pneumonia. Eventually, two patients died and eight were discharged. In the discharged patients, the median time from admission to discharge lasted 24 d (IQR: 13–43). In summary, some severe or critical COVID-19 patients were found to have no respiratory symptoms or fever at onset. All such atypical cases should be identified and quarantined as early as possible, since they tend to have a prolonged hospital stay or fatal outcomes. Chest computed tomography (CT) scan and nucleic acid detection should be performed immediately on close contacts of COVID-19 patients to screen out those with atypical infections, even if the contacts present without respiratory symptoms or fever at onset.