The Chinese government is relaxing restrictions on the city of Wuhan, the original epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic, despite concerns that asymptomatic cases of the coronavirus linger in the city.
Dr. Yang Jiong, director of respiratory medicine at Zhongnan Hospital in Wuhan, said that there may be 10,000-20,000 asymptomatic cases of coronavirus in the city in comments to the Health Times, a paper affiliated with the Communist Party’s People’s Daily newspaper. Yang said the cases may be less infectious than cases with symptoms, although he described the situation as “quite scary.”
The Health Times included Yang’s comments in an article posted on Monday. That article was almost immediately removed from circulation, the Wall Street Journal reported.
China did not begin reporting asymptomatic cases until April 1. Since then, Wuhan officials have confirmed 194 new asymptomatic cases, with 658 such cases under observation as of Monday.
“Tough lockdowns in China broke many chains of transmission, but it’s unlikely that all the cases have been stamped out,” David Hui, a professor of respiratory medicine at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told the Journal. “The evidence is in the number of asymptomatic cases in the community….We have to watch out for a second wave of infections in China.”
“Our city’s epidemic prevention and control situation is still grim,” Wuhan’s city government said in a notice published on Friday.
In addition to the inherent difficulties of gathering data on asymptomatic cases, the U.S. intelligence community has concluded that local authorities played down the general number of confirmed cases to their superiors. According to the community’s findings, mid-level bureaucrats fear reprisal and possible firing for reporting large numbers of cases.
U.S. intelligence that top CCP officials in Beijing have attempted to hide the true extent of the coronavirus outbreak from outside observers.