China to stop releasing tally of asymptomatic cases

Currently only workers in key sectors are being tested for the virus as an adjusted measure.


People walk on a street in Guangzhou's Haizhu district Dec 1, 2022. [Photo/VCG]

December 15, 2022

BEIJING – Commission says number not accurate after mass nucleic acid tests called off

China will stop publishing daily asymptomatic COVID-19 case counts starting from Wednesday in order to adjust to recent shifts in testing and quarantine rules, the National Health Commission said.

The commission said in a statement on Wednesday morning that authorities are no longer able to grasp an accurate tally of asymptomatic infections because many people have stopped undergoing regular nucleic acid tests and mass screening has been called off in most regions.

Currently, only workers in key sectors and people willing to take the tests are being tested for the virus as an adjusted measure to cope with the highly transmissible but less virulent Omicron strain, said officials.

Li Qun, head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s emergency operations center, said during a news briefing that grassroots health institutions are still required to provide guidance and services for asymptomatic cases recuperating at home.

The commission began publishing daily caseloads of asymptomatic cases on April 1, 2020.

On Tuesday, the mainland reported 2,249 confirmed local infections and currently has a total of 35,274 confirmed local infections, including 150 severe cases, said the commission.

In response to public doubts over a drop in reported infections as many have noticed surging infections around them following the policy adjustment, Li said that the discrepancy is partly a result of fewer tests being conducted nationwide.

“In addition, asymptomatic and mild patients, people exhibiting suspicious symptoms and those testing positive after taking antigen self-tests are resting or being treated at home, so their information cannot be logged by medical institutions,” he said.

Li said the China CDC will continue to deploy multiple surveillance tools and strengthen monitoring of infection clusters at elderly care centers, mental health clinics, social welfare centers, schools and hospitals, so as to understand the latest epidemic situation and viral mutations.

To guarantee that asymptomatic and mild cases resting at home can access prompt assistance when in need, Gao Guangming, deputy director of the commission’s health emergency response department, said that grassroots health clinics are required to arrange staff on call around the clock to answer the needs and inquiries of local residents.

“Meanwhile, communities and village authorities should arrange nucleic acid testing and disinfection work properly,” he said.

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