China launches survey to study immunity, asymptomatic COVID-19 cases

Beijing, Apr 15 (efe-epa).- Nine regions in China, including the worst-hit by the coronavirus outbreak, Hubei, are taking part in a new epidemiological survey to determine the scale of asymptomatic infections and immunity levels across the country’s population.

Blood samples and throat swabs are being taken from randomly selected inhabitants of these regions as part of the survey, the state China Daily newspaper reported Wednesday.

Nucleic acid tests would then be carried out on the throat swabs and antibodies tests on the blood samples to reveal asymptomatic infections and immune responses of the participants respectively.

“The survey is of great urgency and significance, and its results will enable us to take targeted prevention and control measures after we completely prevail over the disease,” said the head of the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Institute for Nutrition and Health, Ding Gangqiang, who is also in charge of epidemiological research in Wuhan – Hubei’s capital.

Some 11,000 of Wuhan’s 11 million inhabitants will take part in the survey, which began collecting samples on Tuesday and expects to complete the collection by Thursday.

Most of the participants are regular residents of the city’s 13 districts although there is also small number of workers engaged in virus containment efforts including security guards, taxi drivers and volunteers.

According to Ding, this program will aid in detecting asymptomatic cases – those people who have contracted the virus but are not exhibiting any COVID-19-related symptoms – which are one of the main concerns of the Chinese health authorities now.

The expert said that a campaign was also being carried out along with the sample collection to spread awareness about the prevention and control of the disease.

China appears to have the outbreak under control and although it continues to detect infections, most of those recorded in recent days are from other countries, which has led Beijing to restrict entry into the country, especially of foreigners.

The number of “active” cases in China stands at 1,137, while just over 1,000 asymptomatic cases are under observation, according to the latest data of the country’s National Health Commission.

Since the start of the pandemic, which originated in Wuhan, China has officially confirmed over 82,000 cases, of which 3,342 have died. EFE-EPA


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