Chinese CDC experts, frontline doctors cite COVID-19 data as reliable, complete

By Zhang Hui, Xu Keyue and Zhao Juecheng Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/30 23:53:40

CDC experts, frontline medics cite integrity of figures as ‘key to virus fight’

Photo: Cui Meng/GT

 Chinese medical experts and frontline doctors said that China's COVID-19 data is reliable, complete and detailed, and that the number of locally transmitted infections which has been near zero for weeks is not simply proved by the data, but also by the zero increase of hospitalizations, in a rebuttal to accusations from Western media and politicians that China's data is "untrusted and misrepresented."

Those accusations, without citing solid evidence, are politically driven in an attempt to smear China and divert the attention of their citizens from their incompetent handling of the outbreak, analysts said.  

Zeng Guang, chief epidemiologist of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), told the Global Times on Monday that the true, complete data is an important factor in China's achievement in combating COVID-19.

"China has the highest data integrity in the world in terms of the novel coronavirus. Its daily reports contain detailed data that can be traced down to county level," Zeng said. 

Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province, the city hit hardest in China, started reporting cases of pneumonia from December 31, 2019, and the National Health Commission begun a daily tally of cases across the Chinese mainland from January 21, when the country reported a total of 291 confirmed cases.

"China was the first to investigate samples from each confirmed case, track down close contacts of those confirmed patients, hospitalize suspected and confirmed patients and put close contacts in quarantine," Zeng said. 

Shoppers line up outside a smartphone store at a mall in Wuhan, capital of Central China's Hubei Province on Monday. Business activity is gradually returning to normal in the city, which was hit hard by the coronavirus. Photo: CNSphoto

Western media has claimed that China has underreported a large number of asymptomatic patients. 

Zeng said that although it cannot be said that all cases are included in the reporting system, as there are asymptomatic patients, China has not concealed or underreported and will never hide the data. Few countries can do this, he said. 

He said that even when China is slowly but steadily getting back on track, China will not lower its guard, and will treat each patient as they are discovered. 

China first reported zero new locally transmitted cases in its 31 provincial-level reigons including Hubei on March 18, and new cases in the Chinese mainland remained in single figures since then. The Chinese mainland reported one locally transmitted case on Sunday.

Meanwhile, frontline doctors in Wuhan told the Global Times that there had been no new patients in the city's hospitals for weeks. 

Peng Zhiyong, director of the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University, told the Global Times that he has not seen new patients for three weeks, but that it would be normal for China to report one or two locally transmitted cases at this time. 

Globally, the US has become the epicenter of the coronavirus with over 139,000 cases as of Sunday evening, exceeding China's total of more than 80,000 cases. Some people questioned whether the number of infections in China, which has the world's largest population, are likely higher than what was reported. 

Experts said that different countries adopt different methods in counting confirmed cases or calculating the death rate.

Chen Xi, an assistant professor of public health at Yale University, told the Global Times that the real data needs to be counted based on nucleic acid tests, but this involves different standards in countries such as the US and China, as the US counts those who test positive for COVID-19, while China confirms those clinically diagnosed with COVID-19.  

Chen said that the asymptomatic infections in the US are counted in confirmed cases, and the number thus is larger. 

In China, there is no data indicating the proportion of asymptomatic infections in the total confirmed cases, and the US figures are not of great significance to China with one reason due to different demographics of the two countries, Chen said.

China's top respiratory expert Zhong Nanshan said Sunday that China does not have a large number of asymptomatic patients, citing the significant drop in the number of new cases in recent weeks. 

British media said Prime Minister  Boris Johnson has been warned by scientific advisers that China's officially declared statistics on the number of cases of coronavirus could be "downplayed by a factor of 15 to 40 times," but such reports did not specify who the advisers were or how they came to their conclusions. 

Some reports which claimed to have evidence based on apparently absurd assertations on an apparent decrease in mobile phone and landline usage in China in January and February, claiming that the number of mobile phone users in China had decreased by over 21 million in the first two months of the year, and that this was because the closed accounts belonged to people who died of the coronavirus.

China's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology refuted such claim last week, saying that the decrease in mobile phone users came because there are fewer new users than usual, as stores were closed due to the epidemic, and some users had canceled their temporary phone numbers due to reduced economic and social activities. 

Zeng criticized Western media and politicians for stirring up chaos deliberately for political purposes.

Some countries which lack research and monitoring of the virus outbreak in their own countries have been questioning China's efforts instead of reflecting on their own problems, Zeng said. 

At this critical moment, countries should strive together to combat the enemy of all humanity instead of accusing other countries, analysts said. 

Newspaper headline: China’s COVID-19 data reliable, complete

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