Beijing: China will publish Covid-19 case data only once per month, after the disease has been downgraded from Category B (or less stringent virus management), the government announced Tuesday. This move is likely to increase confusion and distrust among citizens regarding how fast the virus is spreading or how many people it is fatally infecting.
The current Category A top-level category for China’s Covid-19 management, which includes prevention and treatment modules, will be downgraded from Monday night’s late night announcement by the National Health Commission (NHC).
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“China will reduce the management of the disease (Covid-19), from Class A to B under its law on the prevention, treatment and management of infectious diseases, and remove it in quarantinable infectious disease management, starting January 8,” Xinhua, the official news agency, reported on Tuesday.
Since January 2020, the NHC has been publishing pertinent Covid data. However, the NHC stopped publishing the tally of Covid case numbers last Sunday and handed over the responsibility to the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
The CDC will announce the number and severity of any existing hospitalized cases. It will also publish cumulative deaths and not distinguish between local and imported cases.
According to China Daily, Yin stated that “the number of close contacts would no longer be reported.”
He said that the centre would adjust the frequency of its Covid-19 reporting based on the epidemic situation and eventually, the reports would be issued once per month which is the standard practice for category A diseases.”
According to Chang Jile, National Administration of Disease Prevention and Control (NADPC), China has two categories of infectious diseases: 27 category B diseases and 11 Category C diseases.
China Daily reported that Yin said that the CDC would conduct online surveys to gather more information from the community.
He stated that Covid-19 cases would be reported based on the number and positive results of antigen tests and nucleic acid testing, as well as the monitoring of key groups and key venues, and the mutations of variants.
Yin’s parametres will not suffice to determine the number of Chinese infections. This is because many patients self-test and do not report the results to authorities. Many are also not taking their symptoms to the hospital.
It is possible that the Chinese government has a better idea of the extent of the outbreak.
According to the minutes of the NHC meeting that were leaked by Bloomberg and The Financial Times last week, about 248 million Chinese were infected during the first three weeks. This includes half the population of Sichuan and Beijing.
Last week, the provincial government of eastern Zhejiang province stated that it logs a million Covid-19 case daily and that the number will double at peak.