China Will Now Report Cases of Asymptomatic Virus Carriers After Initially Denying Risks

China Will Now Report Cases of Asymptomatic Virus Carriers After Initially Denying Risks
An ambulance medical staff sprays disinfectant on his colleague after they shipped a patient, who was cured from CCP Virus recently, at Wuhan Red Cross Hospital in Wuhan, China on March 30, 2020. (HECTOR RETAMAL/AFP via Getty Images)
Nicole Hao
After initially dismissing concerns that asymptomatic carriers could spread the CCP virus, the Chinese regime announced that it will report such cases publicly beginning April 1.

China’s National Health Commission acknowledged that asymptomatic carriers can infect others and cause outbreaks.

“During an epidemiological investigation, we found asymptomatic carriers caused clusters of infections,” the commission stated in a March 31 article on its website about the CCP virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus.

Asymptomatic carriers don't show symptoms such as fever, coughing, and sore throat, although test positive during nucleic acid testing.

There were 1,541 asymptomatic carriers in China by March 30, according to the commission. But China commentators suggested that the true number could be far greater.

The commission admitted in the article that it could be difficult to identify these carriers, as they don't feel sick. The carriers wouldn't be easily detected by nucleic acid test or blood test alone, it added.

Currently, carriers are found after they get tested—usually because they came into close contact with diagnosed patients, were exposed to diagnosed patients, or recently traveled to Hubei province or countries where the outbreak is severe, the commission stated.

Health authorities haven't conducted large-scale testing, so “there are asymptomatic carriers [in society] that are hard for us to find.”

Chang Jile, director of the disease control and prevention bureau at the commission, said during a March 31 press conference in Wuhan that authorities will report new asymptomatic carriers and the progress of prior infections.
He added that authorities plan to take samples from the heavy-hit outbreak areas, investigate the asymptomatic carriers, and analyze the epidemiology.

Real Number

The Chinese regime previously didn't count asymptomatic carriers into their total numbers of infections. Nor did it count patients who exhibited symptoms or lung damage consistent with the new virus, but tested negative during nucleic acid testing.

U.S.-based China commentator Tang Jingyuan said the commission’s new announcement is likely due to the regime realizing it can no longer ignore such cases and risk another big outbreak.

He said while official figures are likely underreported, he could extrapolate that there are at least 100,000 asymptomatic carriers in China.

Beijing officially reported that there are more than 82,000 people infected with the CCP virus in China.
Wu Tangchun, a public health expert at Huazhong University of Science and Technology in Wuhan, led a new study, currently in preprint and not yet peer-reviewed, that examined cases in Wuhan.

“By our most conservative estimate, at least 59 percent of the infected individuals were out and about, without being tested and potentially infecting others,” Wu told Nature magazine in an interview. Most unreported cases were people with mild or no symptoms, the study authors concluded.

According to estimates, the official figure represents only the detected cases, or just 41 percent of all infections, or about 200,000. And, as many as 118,000 people could be asymptomatic carriers.

Tang said the regime suddenly decided to report asymptomatic carriers because another outbreak could lead to another crisis.

Beijing was keen to report no more domestic infections “to push all businesses to resume production ... but now, it is worried that people believe the official figures and won’t take health precautions, which would cause another large-scale outbreak,” Tang said.

Nicole Hao is a Washington-based reporter focused on China-related topics. Before joining the Epoch Media Group in July 2009, she worked as a global product manager for a railway business in Paris, France.