Scientists question China’s decision not to report symptom-free coronavirus cases

Source: Nature

Researchers are concerned that China’s official reports on the number of coronavirus infections have not been including people who have tested positive for the virus but who have no symptoms. They fear the practice is masking the epidemic’s true scale. But public health experts say China is right to prioritize tracking sick patients who are spreading the disease.

Since the early days of the outbreak, the country’s National Health Commission has reported daily infection counts, which infectious-disease researchers outside China have been relying on to model the outbreak’s spread and severity.

Earlier this month, officials from Heilongjiang province in northeast China announced that 13 people who had tested positive for the virus with a lab test but who had no symptoms had been removed from the region’s list of confirmed cases. Officials said that they were following the commission’s guidelines for reporting infections, which state that such people should be classified as ‘positive cases’ rather than ‘confirmed cases’. Only confirmed cases are noted in the commission’s official daily reports.