SHANGHAI / BEIJING, March 31 (Reuters) – China will begin releasing information starting on Wednesday with coronavirus patients showing no symptoms of the disease, ordering them to be quarantined for 14 days, a health official said, after the country had his first increase in infections in five days.
As local infections clear up and new cases emerge among those returning home, the presence of asymptomatic carriers of the virus makes people fear that they are spreading the disease without knowing they are carriers.
From April 1, the daily report of the National Health Commission will include details of such cases for the first time, said Chang Jile, a commission official. People in close contact with them face 14 days of medical observation.
Asymptomatic patients under observation totaled 1,541 on Monday and 205 of the cases came from abroad, the commission added.
The 48 new infections Monday and one death in mainland China compare to 31 cases the day before, the commission said, reversing four days of falls. All were imported, bringing the number of such cases to 771, with no new local infection reported.
Many were students returning from abroad. About 35 infected Chinese citizens are still studying abroad, with 11 already cured, Education Ministry official Liu Jin said.
Fearing a second wave of imported cases, China will delay its university entrance exam for a month, until July 7 and 8, China Central Television said. Hubei province, where the virus emerged in late 2019, and Beijing will gain more leeway in programming.
The two-day annual “gaokao” test called more than 10 million candidates last year, state media said.
Last week, a study in the British medical journal Lancet Public Health recommended that China extend school and workplace closings, as removing restrictions early could cause a second spike in the outbreak in August.
Tax authorities acknowledged the impact of the pandemic on exporters and said they were studying policies to reduce pressure on companies: from tax cuts to an extension of preferential policies for foreign firms.
Manufacturing activity in China expanded unexpectedly in March after contracting sharply to a record low. But analysts warned that falling external demand could prevent a lasting recovery.
(Report by Ryan Woo, Brenda Goh, Se Young Lee, Lusha Zhang, Andrew Galbraith, Roxanne Liu, Winni Zhou, Yew Lun Tian, Liangping Gao, and Tom Daly; additional report by Stephanie Nebehay in Geneva; Edited in Spanish by Janisse Huambachano)