BEIJING – The cases of the latest COVID-19 outbreak in China, registered in the northeastern parts of the country, have shown different characteristics compared to the original outbreak in the central Hubei province, official media has reported.
State-run daily Global TImes on Wednesday cited Qiu Haibo, an expert of the National Health Commission, saying on state television earlier this week that the cases detected in recent weeks in the Heilongjiang and Jilin provinces resembled those that have arrived from other countries rather those that originated in Hubei, where the first-ever cases of the new coronavirus were detected in capital Wuhan.
Although a mutation of the virus has not been confirmed, the different characteristics point to the possibility of such an occurrence, which could make it more difficult to contain the disease’s spread and develop treatments and vaccines.
Qiu said that in the two northeastern states, patients have displayed a longer incubation period and atypical clinical symptoms: in many cases the patients do not have fever but do display fatigue or sore throat. Many patients do not show any symptoms, which has resulted in family clusters of infections.
In Wuhan, the patients did not just suffer lung damage but were also affected in the heart, kidneys and intestines, but in Heilongjiang and Jilin, the cases traced to imported infections showed very slight damage to other organs apart from the lungs.
However, Qiu added that the patients in northeast China were responding better to treatments and the percentage of serious cases was lower compared to Wuhan, according to the Global times
Jilin is one of the few places in China where fresh COVID-19 cases are being reported, and the authorities consider the epidemic to be practically under control.
The state accounts for 25 of the total 84 active cases of the disease nationwide, although the latest data from the NHC has not reported any fresh infections in Jilin.
The main infection hotspot is the city of Shulan, under the jurisdiction of the neighboring city of Jilin, where authorities have imposed a lockdown after the fresh COVID-19 outbreak and forced all residents returning from Russia – one of the worst affected country worldwide in terms of cases – to register their personal information and undergo nucleic acid tests carried out by the government.
Northeastern China has proved to be one of the most difficult area to manage for local authorities, who have had to close the border with Russia in recent weeks after detecting a stream of infected Chinese citizens trickling in from the neighboring country. The government has also had to build another makeshift hospital in the Heilongjiang province, similar to the one established in Wuhan initially.