The World Health Organization on Tuesday attempted to clarify comments made 24 hours ago that transmission of the novel strain of coronavirus in those carriers who don't show apparent symptoms were "very rare" cases. Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove said on Tuesday that her comments made during a Monday W.H.O. news briefing were a "misunderstanding" and that she intended to say that asymptomatic transmission is rare globally. "I was just responding to a question, I wasn't stating a policy of W.H.O. or anything like that," the health expert was quoted as saying the the New York Times. The W.H.O.'s Monday comments created confusion and drew criticism from health professionals outside of the agency who warned that transmission of the COVID-19 illness is still possible without having apparent symptoms. Countries throughout the world have adopted broad policies of wearing facial coverings in an effort to limit the spread of the deadly contagion. The W.H.O. said more information is needed to make any broad statements about asymptomatic transmission but it currently estimates that 16% of people are asymptomatic and can transmit the novel coronavirus, while other data show that 40% of coronavirus transmission is due to carriers not displaying symptoms of the illness. The COVID-19 pandemic, which was first identified in Wuhan, China in December, has infected more than 7.1 million people and claimed more than 400,000 lives world-wide, according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.