'Few asymptomatic cases in China but US should study'

Local | Justin Tong 30 Mar 2020

There shouldn’t be a large number of asymptomatic Covid-19 patients in the mainland, the Chinese government’s senior medical adviser Zhong Nanshan said.

His assumption was based on the decreasing number of newly confirmed cases in the country.

“In the beginning, the mortality rate in Wuhan was about 5 to 6 percent. In other words, a lot of patients had not been diagnosed, so the denominator was low and death rate was high. But right now in other cities or provinces, the mortality rate is about 0.9 to 1 percent. I think that is reasonable,” Zhong said.

Also head of the high-level expert group for China’s National Health Commission, Zhong said there is normally a high transmission rate between asymptomatic patients and their close contacts as they are infectious virus carriers due to a “very high virus load in their upper airway.”

But he said as the situation in China has become more stable as there are very few new cases or even none in some provinces.

Zhong praised the country’s achievement in combating the coronavirus through suppression and mitigation.

“Nobody can stop the spread and infection of this kind of disease, but we can try to do our best to inhibit the spreading. That’s what we are successful at,” he said, adding that the key to controlling the virus is “distancing.”

While he admitted there is currently limited scope of understanding on asymptomatic patients, it is meaningful for the United States to study them.

“In the United States at this moment, they are doing some surveys because the number of infected patients is going up very rapidly. However, the mortality rate remained no higher than 2 percent,” he said.

As of 7.30pm yesterday, the mainland recorded 206 new confirmed cases and five deaths, bringing the tolls up to 82,419 and 3,306 respectively. Among the new cases, 44 were imported.


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