China reports fewer coronavirus infections, tallies asymptomatic cases
BEIJING: China, where the coronavirus outbreak first emerged in December, reported dwindling new infections on Wednesday and for the first time disclosed the number of asymptomatic cases, which could complicate how trends in the outbreak are read.
Almost all of Tuesday’s 36 new cases involved arrivals from overseas, the National Health Commission said, down from 48 a day earlier, and taking total infections to 81,554.
But that figure excludes 130 new sufferers of the highly contagious disease who do not show symptoms, its statistics showed.
China has decided to devote greater screening to asymptomatic sufferers and those in contact with them. In remarks during a visit to the eastern province of Zhejiang, President Xi Jinping urged better management of symptom-free cases.
The identification of asymptomatic carriers comes from screening and tests of suspected cases and tens of thousands of people with whom they have had contact. As of Tuesday, there were about 20,000 people under observation, the commission said, though they may not necessarily be carriers.
A total of more than 700,000 people who had been in close contact with suspected cases had been traced so far in China, it said.
Citing classified data, the South China Morning Post said China had found more than 43,000 cases of asymptomatic infection through contact tracing.
Asymptomatic infections would not cause a major outbreak if the transmission chain was cut, the Chinese government’s senior medical adviser, Zhong Nanshan, told state-run Shenzhen TV. – Reuters