Responding to the growing criticism for its disproportionately reduced number of reported coronavirus patients, China has now decided to release data on the number of COVID-19 patients in the country who have not exhibited any symptoms of the contagion. Till now China was reporting only cases with symptoms as COVID-19 positive cases, and those with the infection but without any symptom were excluded from the official data.
According to a statement released by the top administrative body of China, the State Council, in a meeting chaired on Monday by Premier Li Keqiang on COVID-19, the Chinese politician asked the local governments to focus their ongoing efforts in monitoring, tracking, isolating and treating cases of asymptomatic infections. The council issued a stern warning to local governments to release data in an impartial and transparent manner.
The statement read that once the asymptomatic cases are identified, it is essential to immediately implement strict centralised isolation and medical management, release information openly and transparently, steadfastly prevent late reporting and omission, determine the sources as quickly as possible and send close contacts of the patients to quarantine for observation.
The meeting report said, “China should expeditiously collect samples from key epidemic areas, carry out investigations and epidemiological analysis of asymptomatic infections, and conduct research into prevention and control measures”.
According to reports published in local media, the data about the patients suffering from COVID-19 but not exhibiting any symptoms will be released very soon by the Chinese authorities. A report published in Xinhua earlier said that all asymptomatic cases in Zhejiang, in the country’s southeast and which has the fourth-highest number of confirmed infections of any province, would be subject to the same control measure as confirmed cases.
After the State Council meeting on Monday decided to release the asymptomatic cases of coronavirus, the state-run Xinhua reported on Wednesday that 1541 cases with no symptoms have been put under strict medical observation.
The exclusion from official data of people infected but without symptoms has come up repeatedly since the coronavirus emerged in Wuhan. Authorities there and elsewhere are still finding such cases, even as the growth in confirmed new cases has slowed rapidly. After asymptomatic coronavirus positive cases are included in official data, the numbers of COVID-19 cases in China may go up from its current level.
From April 1, China started reported its asymptomatic Coronavirus positive cases, and is shows four-fifth of the people who are infected show no symptom. But such people can still spread the virus. According to classified Chinese govt data accessed by South China Morning Post, more than 43,000 people on mainland China had tested positive by the end of February but had no immediate symptoms. They were not included in the official tally of confirmed cases, but were placed in quarantine and monitored.
Experts and epidemiologists across the world had expressed their disbelief over the numbers of coronavirus victims emerging from China. A US intelligence community sent a classified report to the White House, accusing the Chinese of lying about the actual count of the coronavirus victims in their country, as a bid to deflect the world’s attention from the fact that the virus had first emerged from the central Chinese city of Wuhan.
Even in China, discontent among people had risen after the Communist Party of China released numbers indicating that the contagion has been brought under control. Stacks of thousands of urns outside funeral homes in Hubei province have seeded doubts among people about the official tally of those who have perished from the virus.
In the last few days, Chinese provinces of Gansu and Guangdong have reported asymptomatic cases of people who had travelled from the city of Xianning in Hubei province after a quarantine was lifted. The news has given rise to concerns about the total number of asymptomatic coronavirus cases in the country.
“It is not allowed to conceal or omit information in pursuit of zero case reports,” the meeting report said. “This will not only help guide the public to protect themselves, but also promote the active and orderly resumption of work and production.”