The coronavirus outbreak in China is far from over and has, in fact, just entered a new phase, according to an expert working at China's Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This has raised eyebrows over the government's stance that COVID-19 has been contained in the country.
China has started lifting its lockdown restrictions in cities across the mainland, including Wuhan, where the coronavirus originated, as it celebrates the containment of the deadly virus that infected more than 82,000 people and claimed over 3,300 lives in the country.
China has not contained COVID-19, says CDC
However, Zeng Guang, who is the chief epidemiologist at the CDC, said on Thursday, that the coronavirus outbreak has not been contained, contradicting Beijing's official narrative that virus is now under control in China. Zeng told Chinese state-run newspaper Health Times that COVID-19 is likely to infect more people.
"The novel coronavirus has spread to more than 200 countries, and infected much more people than SARS [severe acute respiratory syndrome]. In the end, the virus may infect more than 100 times the number of people during SARS," he said.
SARS was first discovered in China's Guangdong province in 2002, before spreading to other countries. The official global death toll of the outbreak was about 800, but many believe the number was significantly higher than what was released to the public.
Zeng added that the virus is still rampant in China. "Now is the phase to prevent infected people from entering China, and to control new domestic infections," he said. "[We should] maintain our capacity to find patients at an early stage, control the outbreak when it first starts, and prevent the next big outbreak."
Asymptomatic cases could lead to second outbreak
Zeng's comments are a stark contradiction to the Chinese government's claims that there were no domestic infections in the country and only 35 imported cases were recorded on April 2.
After initially rejecting concerns about asymptomatic carriers (people who test positive for the virus but don't show any symptoms) spreading the virus further, The Xi Jinping-led regime announced on April 1 that it will start reporting asymptomatic cases, which added more than 1,300 cases to its tally.
On March 31, China's National Health Commission also acknowledged the risks of asymptomatic carriers in a Q&A post on its website: "There are diagnosed patients who were infected by asymptomatic carriers in our national research and some provinces' studies. During an epidemiological investigation, we found asymptomatic carriers caused clusters of infections."
It appears like the second wave of coronavirus infections in the country have already begun. On March 31, the Jia county in China's Henan province, which is home to more than 600,000 people was locked down again after three doctors were diagnosed as asymptomatic carriers.
There have been a series of new COVID-19 reports cropping up across China, including one citizen collapsing on the streets, in a scene reminiscent of earlier this year when the COVID-19 outbreak had just emerged in China. Video footage of these reports is being circulated on social media. Check out the post below: