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China admits 1/3 of COVID-19 cases were asymptomatic: over 40K unofficially added to totals– South China Morning Post


(image courtesy of and TheDigitalArtist)

The South China Morning Post reported today that Chinese authorities have begun to disclose that their official case totals excluded asymptomatic patients.  These patients were nonetheless quarantined under China’s rigid isolation protocols.  As of today, there were about 1,500 of these asymptomatic patients under observation and about 2,500 with symptoms.  Starting tomorrow, the Chinese government will start including reports of all cases, whether they have symptoms or not.

One factor causing confusion is that some of the Chinese coronavirus tests were unreliable; some inaccurate tests were even exported and had to be replaced after complaints from European governments.

The Chinese government’s response to the novel coronavirus has been criticized.  It appears that, although there was a mechanism for reporting new and unusual cases of disease in place, doctors were pressured not to make such reports by political cadres.  This is a weakness in the Chinese system: political non-expert people are in competition with, and sometimes superior to, local expert non-political workers.  This is true in all fields in China: political supervision and meddling in the work of professionals and experienced workers.

The situation is similar in the United States, although not as pervasive.  There are thousands of political appointees in federal government who are subject to the whims of the president and his minions.  Many obtain their jobs through donations to political campaigns and service in the ranks of candidates’ staff.  Many others get work by effusively praising the candidate before, and especially after, he or she is elected.  Some of these individuals have proven to be incompetent or worse in the present administration.

During the impeachment hearings, it was revealed that one person who testified got his job as an ambassador by making a million dollar donation to the president’s inauguration fund.  This fund turned out to be full of slush: not only was it twice the size of previous inaugural funds, but half of it was not spent on actual inaugural events.  Some of this money clearly wound up in the pockets of the president and his family.

China has a highly politicized system of administration.  Candidates for government work pass rigorous examinations; the tradition of exams goes back hundreds or thousands of years.  There are parallel chains of command that ensure all expert workers are supervised by loyal political appointees who report to the Party.  Many of these political supervisors have prioritized “good” reports and covered up bad news in an attempt to look better to their bosses in Beijing.  Expert workers who report bad news risk being called in by the police and pressured to be quiet about problems that they encounter.

One Chinese doctor who was punished for reporting on a cluster of patients with an atypical form of pneumonia has become famous.  He was posthumously “pardoned” after he died from the disease he was reporting on: COVID-19.  The only bright spot in this chain of political cover-ups is that officials have been forced to retract their lies about this disease; now, the Chinese government is admitting that their cases of novel coronavirus are far more numerous than they had said in the past.

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