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CDC decision to test people with flu symptoms for COVID-19 sparks fears among Chinese public and Japanese media

(People's Daily Online)    11:52, February 22, 2020

Netizens are speculating that the novel coronavirus may have come from the US

File photo: a scientist of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) examines the result of a plaque assay, which is a test that allows scientist to count how many flu virus particles are in a mixture. (Photo credit: CDC)

Chinese social media has been inundated with speculations that COVID-19, or the novel coronavirus, may originate from the US after the later decided to test patients with flu symptoms for the lethal virus.

The speculations came on the heel after TV Asahi Corporation of Japan reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suspected that among over 10,000 American patients who were presumably killed by flu in the past few months, some may actually died of COVID-19. The CDC has then decided to use new testing methods to check patients with flu symptoms for COVID-19.

A screenshot of the Sina Weibo post

The news has then spread swiftly on Chinese social media. As of press time, it has been upvoted over 220,000 times on Sina Weibo since the post was uploaded on the evening of Feb. 21, receiving more than 14,000 comments, with many assuming that the COVID-19 may come from the US, and that’s why so many people died in the US because of “flu symptoms.”

Such speculations were hyped up in China as the CDC estimated that so far this season there have been at least 26 million flu illnesses, 250,000 hospitalisations and 14,000 deaths from flu.

According to CNBC, officials from the CDC said it will monitor some people with flu symptoms for the COVID-19, in an effort to detect if the virus begins to spread. The program will begin with five labs, in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago and New York City.

“The 2019 Military World Games was held in Wuhan last October. Is there any chance that the virus was brought by US participants to China? Currently a large number of people died in the US of flu, but I don’t believe that a simple flu can kill so many people,” wrote a netizen on Sina Weibo.

The CDC has yet to make any comments on such speculations as of press time. 

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Xian Jiangnan, Bianji)

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