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China zeroes in on coronavirus patients with no symptoms

SHANGHAI/BEIJING: China will start releasing information from today on coronavirus patients who show no disease symptoms, ordering them into quarantine for 14 days, a health official said, after the country witnessed its first rise in infections in five days.

As local infections peter out and new cases surface among travellers returning home, the existence of virus carriers with no symptoms is fuelling public concern that people could be spreading it without knowing they are ill.

From today, the daily report of the National Health Commission will include details of such cases for the first time, commission official Chang Jile told a briefing. People in close contact with them face 14 days of medical observation.

Asymptomatic patients under observation numbered 1,541 by Monday, with 205 of the cases having come from overseas, the commission said separately.

Monday's 48 new infections, and one death, were up from 31 the previous day, the commission said, reversing four days of declines. All were imported, taking China's tally of such cases to 771, with no new local infection reported.

Many were students returning from overseas.

About 35 infected Chinese citizens are still studying abroad, with 11 already cured, Education Ministry official Liu Jin said.

Fearing a second wave of infections sparked by such inbound travellers, China will delay its college entrance exam by a month, until July 7 and 8, China Central Television said, although Hubei province and Beijing will get more leeway in scheduling it.

POVERTY

The World Bank warned on Monday that the pandemic's economic fallout could cause China's growth to come to a standstill while driving 11 million more people in East Asia into poverty.

The pandemic is causing "an unprecedented global shock, which could bring growth to a halt and could increase poverty across the region", said World Bank chief economist for East Asia and the Pacific Aaditya Mattoo.

Even in the best-case scenario, the region will see a sharp drop in growth, with China's expansion slowing to 2.3 per cent from 6.1 per cent last year, according to a report on the pandemic's impact on the region. - AFP, REUTERS

WORLD