New rules focus on detection of asymptomatic cases

CHINA DAILY – China has published new rules to intensify detection of asymptomatic novel coronavirus cases and standardise management procedures, aiming to curtail the risk of a resurgence of infections caused by people who are infected but showing no symptoms.

Swift reporting of symptom-free cases and tracking of their close contacts, vigorous testing to screen out undetected cases and prolonged medical monitoring were highlighted in a circular released by the Joint Prevention and Control Mechanism of the State Council last Wednesday.

The document shows authorities’ resolution to strictly manage asymptomatic cases and help assuage undue panic over stealth virus carriers, said Chief Epidemiologist with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention Zeng Guang.

“The issue of asymptomatic patients has been existent since the beginning of the epidemic. But as the situation evolves, authorities have shifted epidemic control focus onto handling asymptomatic cases,” Zeng told People’s Daily.

Since China began publishing asymptomatic infections in its daily briefings on April 1, at least 17 provincial-level regions have reported such local infections while the proportion of cases imported from abroad is also growing, the National Health Commission said.

Last Thursday, the Chinese mainland added 47 new asymptomatic cases, with 1,097 cases under medical observation, including 349 found in travellers from overseas, the commission said.

Under the new regulation, all medical institutions should report newly identified asymptomatic cases within two hours of discovery. Investigation and registration of close contacts must be completed within 24 hours, with timely results submitted to the infectious disease reporting system.