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Number of patients cannot be 'subtracted' at will

By Zhang Zhouxiang | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2020-02-22 16:58
Medical workers inject medicine for a patient at an intensive care ward of the novel coronavirus infection cases at a branch of Tongji Hospital in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei province, Feb 18, 2020. [Photo/Xinhua]

On Thursday, Hubei province reported 349 new cases of novel coronavirus infections, yet a look at the detailed list showed that in Wuhan alone the number was 615.

The cause behind the discrepancy lies in a creative math of certain local authorities: Subtraction. As supply of nucleic acid test paper in Hubei became abundant, the latest update of the national treatment plan has removed clinical diagnosis from diagnosis methods. As a result, 10 cities of Hubei have "subtracted" over 200 previously clinically diagnosed patients from their list.

That subtraction is undoubtedly absurd. The clinically diagnosed patients are diagnosed patients and there is no reason to remove them. To subtract them from the total number of diagnosed patients will not help anybody.

The only possible "benefit" of the subtraction, if there are any, is that it makes the data look better and show the public and higher authorities an impression that the epidemic is under better control. But beautiful words do not help to improve the actual situation.

Worse, will the subordinates of the involved authorities take similar measures? For example, if a hospital fabricated data and exaggerated the number of patients they cured, how would the officials who subtracted data prevent them?

Fortunately, on Friday, the Communist Party of China Hubei Provincial Committee expressed their firm attitude, namely that the subtraction is not allowed, the already subtracted ones must be added back, while the officials responsible for the deed must be held responsible for their misdeeds.

That's the correct attitude. Behind each number is a human life that must be cherished and no one can subtract the numbers at will. The only way of making the data look better lies in hard work, namely fighting the epidemic with greater efforts so as to control it.

  
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