China Reports New Cases of Coronavirus, Starts Nucleic Acid Tests

Coronavirus in China. Photo: NHC
Coronavirus in China. Photo: NHC

China – which is believed to be concealing the facts about coronavirus in the country – has reported steady increase in domestic clusters of novel coronavirus infections.

China’s National Health Commission (NHC) believes that the new cases are triggered by people arriving from overseas as local governments intensify testing among high-risk groups to stem a resurgence of the virus.

Quoting China Daily, NHC said that the Chinese mainland added 16 new infections on Saturday (April 18), including nine cases detected in inbound arrivals. As China is still struggling to control the spread of the disease, a second wave of coronavirus outbreak in the country of 1.4 billion people cannot be ruled out.

Though the number of locally transmitted infections dropped to seven on Saturday after four days of maintaining double-digit daily growth, a few regions are facing mounting pressure as clusters of infected people seeded by imported cases rise, commission spokesman Mi Feng said on Sunday (April 19).

“The situation highlights the significance of ensuring close management of the epidemic and cutting off community transmission of the virus,” he said.

[ Covid Health Bulletin Covers Global Coronavirus News and Views ]

As the increase in locally transmitted infections underscores the menacing contagiousness of the virus, according to NHC, an increasing number of regions are stepping up testing to sever possible chains of community transmission.

Beijing has also stressed improving testing capacities to cover all groups at high risk of contracting or transmitting the virus. It has identified eight groups that must take nucleic acid tests (NAT), including confirmed cases and their close contacts, visitors to fever clinics, patients planning to be hospitalized and inbound travelers from overseas or other regions in China, the city government said on Sunday.

The nucleic acid testing services provided by 189 testing labs have been available across central China’s Hubei Province hard hit by the COVID-19 epidemic, an official said on April 19.

The daily average of people receiving nucleic acid tests has reached to 54,000 since March 30, compared with 30,400 before, said Liu Dongru, deputy head of the provincial health commission, at a press briefing.

Apart from the diagnostic tests to determine whether a person is sick with coronavirus, the antibody tests and nucleic acid tests are essential to measure the impact of the disease in a particular area.

An antibody test finds if a person’s blood that the immune system makes can fight with the infection. And nucleic acid tests are used to confirm if a person is infected with virus.

In Wuhan, the hardest-hit city in China, wider testing has been rolled out since the lifting of outbound travel restrictions on April 8 as more people travel out of the area to return to work.

It is being observed that the countries – such as India – which are lifting the coronavirus lockdown restrictions arbitrarily without getting any scientific inputs from all types of tests (including diagnostic tests, antibody tests, and nucleic acid tests) will suffer more fatalities and serious economic consequences.

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Rakesh Raman