The Claim and Our Verdict
- A Facebook post published May 10, 2021, claims three imported cases of COVID-19 recorded in Chongqing were confirmed to have the new mutant variant discovered in India and that the variant can evade detection by “standard” COVID-19 testing.
- The Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the three people tested positive by nucleic acid testing on arrival at Chongqing Customs, and all three were subsequently further investigated by CT scan. According to guidelines published by Chinese health authorities, both a nucleic acid test and a CT scan can be applied to examine COVID-19 infection. A positive result using a nucleic acid test can confirm the infection, the guidelines claim. Therefore, the “standard” testing of COVD-19 (including nucleic acid testing) can detect the mutant variant identified in Chongqing.
- Therefore, we rate the claim FALSE.
A Facebook post published May 10, 2021, on the public group “Malaysia COVID-19 info sharing site,” claims three Chinese people tested negative for COVID-19 upon their arrival in Chongqing, but were later confirmed by computerized tomography (CT) scan as infected. The post claims that the mutant strain from India could evade detection by current COVID-19 testing.
As of the issuance of this report, the post had been shared 100 times, and had received 158 “mood responses” and 8 comments.
Statements released April 23 and April 24 by Chongqing health authorities claim three recently confirmed imported cases were reported in the city. The three patients mentioned in the statements took flight H9787 from India via Nepal on April 21, 2021.
The Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CCDC) published May 1, 2021 a public health investigation report. According to the report, the epidemiological investigation revealed the three patients travelled to New Delhi from Noida, a northern city in India, in a chartered car on April 19. They flew to Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, the same day. They stayed in a hotel in Nepal until April 21 and then went to the airport in a chartered cab and took the flight from Kathmandu to Chongqing. They tested positive by nucleic acid testing at Chongqing customs immediately after landing, the report claims. They had received several COVID-19 tests with negative results in India, according to the report.
The report also confirmed they each received a CT scan, which suggested infectious lesions, and were classified as common type of COVID-19. Therefore, they had been confirmed infected with COVID-19 by the nucleic acid testing and were further investigated by CT scan to check the condition of the infection. The report claims the genome analysis of the three cases’ specimens revealed that they were infected with the mutant coronavirus first identified in India in October 2020.
According to the diagnostic and treatment protocol for COVID-19 (trial version 8) published by China health authorities, laboratory testing (including pathogenic testing, i.e., nucleic acid testing) and chest medical imaging (i.e., CT scan) can both be applied to examine COVID-19 infections. The protocol also says that either positive in nucleic acid test or positive in antibody test (if the case is not vaccinated) can confirm the infection of COVID-19. Therefore, we can conclude the “standard” COVID-19 testing methods, including nucleic acid testing, can detect the mutant strain of coronavirus identified in Chongqing.
Therefore, we rate the claim as FALSE.
- Facebook post, May 10, 2021.
- Chongqing Municipal Health Committee, “Two imported cases of COVID-19 were recorded on Apr. 22,” April 23, 2021.
- Chongqing Municipal Health Committee, “One imported case of COVID-19 was recorded on Apr. 23,” April 24, 2021.
- CCDC Weekly, “Notes from the Field: Emerging Variants of B.1.617 Lineage Identified Among Returning Chinese Employees Working in India – Chongqing Municipality, China, April 2021,” May 1, 2021.
- Office of the National Health Commission and Office of the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine, PRC, “the diagnostic and treatment protocol for COVID-19 (trial version 8),” April 14, 2021.