China’s COVID Numbers No Longer Include Asymptomatic Patients

By Alistair Baker-Brian, December 14, 2022

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China will no longer include asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 in its daily COVID numbers. 

The decision is in effect as of today, Wednesday, December 14, 2022, as announced by the National Health Commission of the People’s Republic of China. 

An asymptomatic carrier refers to an individual who tests positive for COVID-19 but doesn’t display symptoms, such as coughing, sore throat, fever, etc. 

Asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 have been included in China’s data since January, 2020 – not long after the Sars-Cov-2 virus, which causes COVID-19, was first discovered. 

According to China News Net (中国新闻网), the decision to exclude asymptomatic cases from the data stems from the fact that so many neither partake in nucleic acid testing, nor are admitted to a hospital; in short, tracing asymptomatic patients is too difficult in the context of China’s newly relaxed anti-epidemic policies. 

Official numbers show China’s daily tally of new COVID-19 cases has dropped significantly in recent days, most likely due to the fact that many are now testing for COVID-19 by themselves at home using antigen test kits.

In the earlier days of COVID-19, asymptomatic carriers caused confusion among even the most adept of medical minds. 

BBC News reported in May, 2020 on asymptomatic carriers who were part of a church group in Singapore; studying how the virus was spread among those in the group helped understand the incubation period of COVID-19. 

Some asymptomatic carriers may not show any symptoms at all. Meanwhile, others may show symptoms several days after being infected; the time between infection and showing of symptoms is known as the incubation period. 

WebMD – a medical information website – reports that incubation periods have shortened as the Sars-Cov-2 virus has evolved. With the initial Alpha variant, those infected would be asymptomatic for approximately five days. This has shortened to around 4.5 days with the Beta variant, 4.41 days with Delta and 3.42 days with Omicron.

During the initial outbreak of COVID-19, patients could go 2-14 days without showing symptoms.

With asymptomatic cases no longer in the data, many may wonder how long it’ll be before we do away with daily COVID updates for good. 

[Cover image via Weibo/@搜狐新闻]

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