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China starts reporting asymptomatic coronavirus cases

China on Wednesday started including asymptomatic cases in its daily coronavirus tallies after pressure and widespread concern that leaving such cases out was painting an inaccurate picture of the outbreak in China.

China on Wednesday started including asymptomatic cases in its daily coronavirus tallies after pressure and widespread concern that leaving such cases out was painting an inaccurate picture of the outbreak in China.

The National Health Commission said 130 asymptomatic cases were reported over the past day, and a total of 1,367 cases of asymptomatic infections were under medical observation.

Thirty-six new cases with symptoms and seven new deaths were added over the past day, the commission said. One of the new cases and six of the deaths were reported in Hubei province, the original epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak. Thirty-five of the new cases were imported from abroad.

China announced on Tuesday it would start revealing the number of people who tested positive for coronavirus but who do not have symptoms such as fever and cough. Until now, such cases were not included in the government’s daily tallies of the disease.

The practice differed from that of countries such as Singapore, Japan and South Korea, where all patients who test positive are included in the daily counts of coronavirus infections.

Beijing made the change after pressure from abroad and from the Chinese public. Scientists believe asymptomatic patients can transmit the virus to others.

On Tuesday, the National Health Commission said it had put under observation as of March 30 a total of 1,541 people who had tested positive for coronavirus but lacked symptoms.

So far, China has reported 81,554 coronavirus cases including 3,312 deaths and 76,238 patients who have recovered.

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