TOP News

World: China releases largest study on Covid-19 outbreak

Chinese officials note serious problems in coronavirus response. The World Health Organization keeps praising them.

  Chinese officials note serious problems in coronavirus response. The World Health Organization keeps praising them. Some health experts wonder if the WHO’s deference to China helped spread the virus in the initial weeks.And as the coronavirus swept across the Chinese heartland and jumped to other nations, WHO’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, applauded the “transparency” of the Chinese response.

Slideshow by photo services

Health officials in China have published the first details of more than 70,000 cases of Covid-19, in the biggest study since the outbreak began.

Research from the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that more than 80% of the cases have been mild with the sick and elderly most at risk.

The study also points out the high risk for medical staff.

The findings put the overall death rate of the Covid-19 virus at 2.3%.

In Hubei, the worst affected province, the death rate is 2.9% compared to only 0.4% in the rest of the country.

China's latest official figures released on Tuesday put the overall death toll at 1,868 and 72,436 infections.

  • Are coronavirus tests flawed?
  • Watching loved ones die without care in Wuhan
  • Why Singapore is so vulnerable to virus spread

Officials said there were 98 new deaths and 1,886 new cases in the past day, 93 of those deaths and 1,807 of the infections were in Hubei province - the epicentre of the outbreak.

More than 12,000 people have been cured, according to Chinese authorities.

What does the study tell us?

The paper by the CDC, released on Monday and published in the Chinese Journal of Epidemiology, looked at all 72,314 cases of Covid-19 diagnosed across China as of 11 February, including confirmed, suspected, and asymptomatic cases.

Coronavirus Live Updates: Cases Rise in Italy and Iran, and Spread to Other Countries

  Coronavirus Live Updates: Cases Rise in Italy and Iran, and Spread to Other Countries New cases of the coronavirus popping up across Europe. Dozens of infections in Iran stoking fears about an uncontrolled spread in the Middle East. Global market jitters continuing after a steep slide. American health authorities warning that it was a matter of when, not if, the epidemic would reach the United States. A toxic political climate in Washington complicating the public health challenge. That worrying drumbeat frayed nerves across the world on Wednesday even as the pace of the outbreak seemed to be slowing in China.

While the results largely confirm previous descriptions of the virus and patterns of infection, the study includes a detailed breakdown of the 44,672 confirmed cases across all of China.

a pile of clothes on a bed: The highest fatality rate - 14.8% - is for people aged 80 and older© AFP The highest fatality rate - 14.8% - is for people aged 80 and older

Some of the conclusions reached include the following:

  • Some 80.9% of infections are classified as mild, 13.8% as severe and only 4.7% as critical.
  • The highest fatality rate is for people aged 80 and older, at 14.8%.
  • For children up to 9, there have been no fatalities and up to the age of 39, the death rate remains low at 0.2%.
  • For the next age groups, the fatality rates increase gradually: For people in their 40s it is 0.4%, in their 50s it is 1.3%, in their 60s it is 3.6% and their 70s it is 8%.
  • Looking at the sex ratio, men are more likely to die (2.8%) than women (1.7%).
  • Identifying which existing illnesses put patients at risk, the study finds cardiovascular disease at number one, followed by diabetes, chronic respiratory disease and hypertension
a small child sitting on a bed: The study found a zero fatality rate for small children© AFP The study found a zero fatality rate for small children

Pointing out the risk for medical staff, the paper says that a total of 3,019 health workers have been infected, 1,716 of which were confirmed cases and five had died by 11 February, which was the last day of data included in the research.

On 13 February, China broadened its definition of how to diagnose people, including "clinically diagnosed cases" which previously were counted separate from "confirmed cases".

'Downward trend in epidemic curve'

Looking forward, the paper found that "the epidemic curve of onset of symptoms" peaked around 23-26 January before declining up to 11 February.

  • What are the symptoms?
  • 'No change' in virus outbreak despite China spike
  • 'I didn't want to take coronavirus to Africa'

The study suggests that the downward trend in the overall epidemic curve could mean that "isolation of whole cities, broadcast of critical information  (e.g., promoting hand washing, mask wearing, and care seeking) with high frequency through multiple channels, and mobilization of a multi-sector rapid response teams is helping to curb the epidemic".

But the authors also warn that with many people returning from a long holiday, the country "needs to prepare for the possible rebound of the epidemic".

China's response to the virus has seen the lockdown of Wuhan - the largest city in Hubei - and the rest of the province as well as severe travel restrictions on movements across the country.

Coronavirus Live Updates: Cases Rise in Italy and Iran, and Spread to Other Countries .
New cases of the coronavirus popping up across Europe. Dozens of infections in Iran stoking fears about an uncontrolled spread in the Middle East. Global market jitters continuing after a steep slide. American health authorities warning that it was a matter of when, not if, the epidemic would reach the United States. A toxic political climate in Washington complicating the public health challenge. That worrying drumbeat frayed nerves across the world on Wednesday even as the pace of the outbreak seemed to be slowing in China.

See also