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China's asymptomatic virus figures don't tell the whole story

Officials are under pressure to release more information on COVID-19 carriers

China's health authorities began regular updates Wednesday of national tallies for asymptomatic COVID-19 carriers amid pressure from the public and senior officials to disclose the information. Yet the numbers so far do not reveal the true scale of this category of individuals infected by the coronavirus.

As of Tuesday night, the Chinese mainland had 1,367 asymptomatic individuals who were under medical observation, according to data released Wednesday by the National Health Commission (NHC), China's top health body. The number represented a net decrease of 174 individuals from the previous day, the announcement said. With the country counting 2,004 active symptomatic cases Tuesday, those without signs of illness accounted for 41% of active infections.

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