We knew something was off a few days ago when China's National Health Commission reported that the number of people receiving medical attention over the Coronavirus unexpectedly peaked after rising at roughly 15,000-20,000 each day, and flatlined ever since, even posting three days of declines in the past week.
The sense that China was manipulating the data only grew overnight when according to the latest NHC data, the number of suspected coronavirus cases suddenly plunged by more than 5,000 to 23,589 from 28,942 the day before.
All of this emerged even as China reported a welcome, if suspicious tapering in the number of new cases, which had plateaued at just over 3,000 (a number which according to Dr. Scott Gottlieb was not indicative of the actual infection spread but merely China's ability to conduct at most 3,000 successful tests per day) and have since been declining.
In retrospect it turns out that China indeed "took steps" to demonstrate to the world that it was winning the war against the coronavirus. And since it wasn't doing so in the real world, it decided to do so by engaging in the oldest trick in the Chinese book: by moving the goal posts and changing the definition of what an "infection" means.
As reported by local media this morning, the Chinese National Health Commission quietly changed its definition of Coronavirus "confirmed case" in the latest guideline dated 7/2. As a result, going forward patients who tested positive for the virus but have no symptoms will no longer be regarded as confirmed. As Alex Lam observes, "this inevitably will lower the numbers."
Chinese National Health Commission has changed their definition of #WuhanCoronavirus "confirmed case" in their latest guidelines dated 7/2. Patients tested positive for the virus but have no symptoms will no longer be regarded as confirmed. This inevitably will lower the numbers. pic.twitter.com/q4eWKGfWev— Alex Lam 林偉聰 (@lwcalex) February 10, 2020
As Apple Daily reports, in the latest, fourth edition of the NHC protocol, "mild" is classified as "confirmed cases" but "asymptomatic infected persons" is defined as "persons with no clinical symptoms, respiratory tract specimens, etc. who are positive for new coronavirus pathogenic tests." As a result, "asymptomatic infection" no longer counts as confirmed cases.
Conveniently, the new rule has triggered provinces "to find cases that can be deducted from the total number of confirmed cases." For example, Heilongjiang has axed 13 cases from their tally stating the new definition. Hubei has deducted 87 cases today, but authorities did not explain why."
In total, over 100 cases have been deducted from the running "confirmed case" total over the past 2 days, while also impacting the number of suspected cases. The concerning problem, however, is that authorities do not disclose the number of symptom-less infected patients after they count them separately, and as Alex Lam cautions, "there will be no way of knowing the exact magnitude of the outbreak."
This, of course, is a problem because as a recent article written by a team led by Dr. Zhong Nanshan, suggested the WuhanCoronavirus can be transmitted by infected patients even they without them showing symptoms, which is what makes the virus so infectious, as "sick people could be spreading it without knowing."
One final note: China's bizarre change in definition conflicts with that of the WHO itself which put out an interim guidance on the Wuhan Coronavirus last month, when it present a definition for Confirmed Case: "person with laboratory confirmation irrespective of clinical signs and symptoms. It is very clear. "
@WHO has put out an interim guidance on #WuhanCoronavirus surveillance last month and it has a definition for Confirmed Case: person with laboratory confirmation irrespective of clinical signs and symptoms. It is very clear. https://t.co/8VSCnEuFTS pic.twitter.com/cdU3DUxRBo— Alex Lam 林偉聰 (@lwcalex) February 10, 2020
This shocking "change in definition" of a coronavirus infection naturally prompts the question: just how is China gaming the other infection data to make the disease appear more contained, and more manageable, and can one even remotely trust the official coronavirus numbers published by the National Health Commission?