The COVID-19 pandemic has decreased in China to no national cases since March 18 and all new confirmed cases from March 22 have been reported to be imported. However, the South China Morning Post has accessed confidential data and has indicated that official announcements of confirmed cases exclude asymptomatic virus carriers who have tested positive.
In late February, at least 43,000 identified asymptomatic cases were quarantined. This figure is more than half of the 81 689 confirmed total cases reported as of March 23, 2020 and constitutes a third of the total number of positive cases.
The idea that the Chinese government has excluded asymptomatic cases from official announcements has been circulating on social media like WeChat for more than two weeks, as many have realized that the figures on the ground were different from the official figures. .
On Twitter, user @ding_gang posted a series of news about new confirmed cases in residential districts in Wuhan and questioned the official figures:
武汉 到处 都是 新增 病例 ， 官方 数字 是 零 增长！ pic.twitter.com/9Rd04uOWJI
– 路德 (@ding_gang) March 21, 2020
Lots of new cases in Wuhan and the official number is zero!
Some point out that the Chinese National Health Commission has classified asymptomatic cases and confirmed cases into two separate categories in the third edition of its “COVID-19. Control Guides ”, published at the end of January. Furthermore, the current definition of “confirmed infection” used by Chinese health authorities has changed numerous times since January.
As the outbreak curve indicated in the table above shows, after the health authorities removed asymptomatic cases from official figures, the number of confirmed cases went from 4,000 on February 4 to gradually decrease until reaching the 2000 on February 11. Then there was a 600% wave as 15,152 confirmed cases emerged on February 12, followed by major leadership changes in Hubei Province and Wuhan City. Under the new leadership, the definition of “confirmed” changed from one based on laboratory tests to one based on clinical diagnosis. In reality, there were only 1,820 laboratory confirmed cases, while the remaining 13,332 new cases had been clinically confirmed. After February 12, the curve of confirmed cases decreased, as the definition of “confirmed” was again the cases that were tested in the laboratory.
Many netizens believe that the goal of manipulating the figures was to prepare the country to resume production in March, as the economic impact of not doing so would likely generate greater political instability than the disease. Chinese writer @ laodeng89, for example, commented in a Bloomberg analysis of the impact of COVID 19 on China's economy:
为 复工 保 经济
土 共 竭力 压低 感染 数字
因为 武汉 连续 十四天 零 感染 即可 全面 复工
但 彭博 社 分析 指出
随着 疫情 全球 蔓延
即便 中国 平安 复工 也 于事无补
中国 经济 将 面临 二次 冲击 pic.twitter.com/qbnRK7n9fb
– 老 灯 (@ laodeng89) March 23, 2020
To defend the economy, the Chinese Communist Party made every effort to reduce the number of confirmed cases. If Wuhan has zero infections for 14 consecutive days, the entire country can resume work. However, according to Bloomberg's analysis, the resumption of work in China will not alleviate economic pressure as the strong spread of the pandemic worldwide will also hit China.
The political dissident @caojitw quoted the investigative report of the Chinese media Caixin on the imminent economic crisis:
尽管 中共 宣称 武汉 肺炎 疫情 大幅 趋缓 ， 上海 浙江 等 19 省市 外贸 企业 复工 率 近 百分之百 ， 整体 复工 率达 九成。 但 财 新网 报导 ， 欧美 市场 因 紧缩 、 订单 锐减 ， 中国 根本无 工 可 复 ， 情况 比 金融 海啸 还 惨淡。
订单 没 了 就 意味 没有 外汇 收入 ， 而 中国 每年 石油 、 粮食 和 芯片 进口 约需 4 千多 亿 美金。 中国 经济 还有 戏 吗？
– 草 祭 (@caojitw) March 23, 2020
While the CCP claimed that Wuhan's rates of pneumonia had declined, foreign trade corporations in 19 provinces had resumed almost 100 percent of their business, and overall, 90 percent of the businesses in the country have resumed work, Caixin reported that the shrinking in demand and contracts from the US and Europe because of the pandemic had taken away work. The situation was more devastating than during the financial tsunami. No contracts, no foreign currency, but the annual importation of oil, food and chips would cost US 400 billion dollars. What would become of China’s economy?
While the Chinese Communist Party claimed that Wuhan's pneumonia rates had declined, that foreign trade corporations in 19 provinces had resumed almost 100% of their activity and, above all, that 90% of the country's companies had When work resumed, Caixin reported that the decline in demand and contracts in the United States and Europe due to the pandemic had reduced work. The situation was more devastating than during the financial tsunami. No contract, no foreign currency, but the annual import of oil, food, and potatoes will cost $ 400 billion. What will become of China's economy?
At the same time, the threat of transmission of cases with asymptomatic infections is still evident. Although China has kept track of asymptomatic infections, as the country has resumed its economic activities, many asymptomatic carriers of the coronavirus may have returned to work and spread the virus to others. At least one study indicates that those infected can be highly contagious even if they have mild symptoms or no symptoms. In an independent study, the “silent transmission” rate was estimated to be approximately 10%.
Epoch Times, a foreign media and political critic, also reported that a large number of discharged patients had tested positive again.
Furthermore, both Hong Kong and Taiwan are facing a second wave of the outbreak. The number of confirmed cases in Hong Kong doubled in 10 days from 150 on March 14 to 317 on March 22. Although most cases are imported, an increasing number of cases could not be connected to existing cases, indicating that asymptomatic transmission may have settled in the local community.
According to the Tencent update on COVID-19, on March 23, there were 191 confirmed cases across the country (including Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan), of which 60% were imported. Although the page has removed the specific locations of confirmed cases, the trend indicates that COVID-19 is returning to China.