China's Guangzhou sees low rate of severe COVID-19 cases

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The southern Chinese city of Guangzhou reported a low rate of severe COVID-19 infections in the recent flare-up, and few local cases developed into pneumonia, noted Chinese medical experts on the frontline.

As of Thursday, Guangzhou had reported more than 180,000 local COVID-19 infections in the new round of epidemic outbreak, about 90 percent of whom were asymptomatic cases and no deaths had been reported, the municipal health commission said.

"During the outbreak of the original strain of COVID-19 and the Delta variant, more than half of the infected people developed pneumonia, and more than 60 percent had some degree of pulmonary manifestations," said Tang Xiaoping, head of the Guangzhou infectious diseases institute.

"But in this new round, more than 90 percent of the Omicron-infected people were asymptomatic and mild cases, with very few developing into pneumonia or severe pneumonia," Tang added.

Compared with the original and Delta strains, the Omicron variant showed significantly enhanced transmissibility but remarkably decreased virulence.

Since October 22, the Eighth Affiliated Hospital of Guangzhou Medical University, a designated hospital for COVID-19 in Guangzhou, has treated more than 5,000 COVID-19 cases, including more than 500 patients over the age of 60. Only two were diagnosed as severe.

"The proportion of severe patients is not large in the recent flare-up, and most of them are manifested as the aggravation of the original underlying diseases," said Li Yimin, chief doctor at the critical care medicine department of Guangzhou Institute of Respiratory Health. 

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