China focuses on patients with no symptoms as infections rise

Asymptomatic people under observation numbered 1,541

March 31, 2020 11:10 pm | Updated 11:30 pm IST

China will start releasing information from Wednesday on coronavirus ( COVID-19 ) patients who show no disease symptoms, ordering them into quarantine for 14 days, a health official said, after the mainland witnessed its first rise in infections in five days.

As local infections peter out and new cases surface among travellers returning home, the existence of virus carriers with no symptoms is fuelling public concern that people could be spreading it without knowing they are ill.

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From April 1, the daily report of the National Health Commission will include details of such cases for the first time, Chang Jile, a commission official, told a briefing. People in close contact with them face 14 days of medical observation.

Asymptomatic patients under observation numbered 1,541 by Monday, with 205 of the cases having come from overseas, the Commission said separately.

State Helpline numbers

Monday's 48 new infections, and one death, in mainland China were up from 31 the previous day, the commission said, reversing four days of declines. All were imported, taking China’s tally of such cases to 771, with no new local infection reported. Many were students returning from overseas. About 35 infected Chinese citizens are still studying abroad, Education Ministry official Liu Jin said.

Interactive map of confirmed coronavirus cases in India

Fearing a second wave of infections sparked by such inbound travellers, China will delay its college entrance exam by a month, until July 7 and 8, China Central Television said, although Hubei province, where the virus emerged late last year, and Beijing, the capital, will get more leeway in scheduling it.

The annual two-day “gaokao” test drew more than 10 million candidates last year, state media have said.

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