Communist China’s official numbers are notoriously untrustworthy, but outside observers piecing together reports from inside the People’s Republic have detected a disturbingly high number of coronavirus patients released from quarantine only to test positive again days or weeks later.
The most cynical interpretation of this phenomenon is that China is rushing to declare patients “cured” so it can reduce the number of officially recognized coronavirus cases. Unfortunately, patients who were possibly released prematurely are traveling around China and across the world, increasing the threat of another infection wave.
The South China Morning Post on Thursday discussed a “recovered” coronavirus patient named Adele Jiang who has been quarantined in a hotel in Hubei, the province where the outbreak began, after testing positive for the third time.
Jiang, a 24-year-old student, has been hospitalized, placed in isolation, and discharged twice, only to begin the cycle again when she tested positive less than two weeks after being released. She said her repeated hospitalizations left her “confused and upset.”
“I was not even told that I had retested positive until I was sent to hospital and the doctors told me I would be treated there again for the coronavirus,” she complained.
“Conditions for discharge include three days of normal body temperature, an absence of respiratory problems, and a significant improvement in the chest lesions which are a feature of the disease. Patients must also test negative in two consecutive PCR tests — the swab technique which identifies any remaining genetic material of the virus — conducted at least one day apart,” the SCMP noted.
Although Chinese doctors have said retesting positive is extremely rare, officials in one Chinese province estimated that 14 percent of patients tested positive again after they were discharged. Jiang said growing awareness of these positive retests is producing discrimination against recovered coronavirus patients, especially those from Hubei. Such feelings are said to have caused a clash between police and citizens of Hubei and neighboring Jiangxi province last week.
Chinese dictator Xi Jinping said on Wednesday that local government agencies need to “enhance the management of asymptomatic carriers,” meaning people like Jiang who test positive without displaying visible signs of illness.
The Chinese government claims there are only 1,367 asymptomatic carriers currently in the country, but the Epoch Times noted travel restrictions were lifted by Hubei province on March 25, permitting anyone who earned a “green” health code to travel freely. At least three million people traveled out of the province over the following week. Several other provinces have imposed their own rules requiring visitors from Hubei to be quarantined until they pass at least two tests for the coronavirus.