How Many Coronavirus Cases in China? Officials Tweak the Answer

China’s health authorities have decided to no longer count as confirmed cases those patients who test positive but don’t show symptoms. Skepticism was immediate.

The Ne5w York Times
Date: Feb. 13, 2020
By: By Vivian Wang

Shoppers wore protective plastic garments while buying groceries at a supermarket in Beijing on Tuesday.Credit…Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

HONG KONG — The news was abrupt and, to some, surprising: Overnight, a Chinese province near Russia, had cut its count of confirmed coronavirus cases by more than a dozen.

The revision stemmed from what appeared to be a bureaucratic decision, buried in a series of dense documents from the national government. Health officials said that they would reclassify patients who had tested positive for the new coronavirus but did not have symptoms, and take them out of the total count of confirmed cases.

The documents offered little detail or explanation, and skepticism was immediate. A Hong Kong newspaper called the decision a “disguise.” World Health Organization officials seemed caught off guard when asked about the move at a news conference this week.

The change in counting cases is only one factor that has made it difficult for experts to determine the true scale of the epidemic. In fact, the shifting landscape of how infections are defined and confirmed has led to significant variations in the estimates for the extent of outbreak.    [FULL  STORY]