Health

China Claims One Unmasked Jogger Caused Mass COVID Outbreak

(Photo by ATHIT PERAWONGMETHA/POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent
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The Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) latest COVID-19 science has left many experts baffled.

The Chinese CDC released its November report on a COVID-19 outbreak linked to a public park, claiming that 35 individuals were infected by a single unmasked jogger. After initially going fairly unnoticed, the study has since garnered attention for flying in the face of all prior knowledge regarding COVID-19 transmission.

“For 35 minutes, the Patient Zero jogged along a lake at a local park without wearing a mask. Among the 2,836 people potentially exposed at the time, 39 tested positive,” the study says. “Overall, 38 out of 39 cases did not wear a mask on the morning of August 16.”

Patient Zero was a 41-year-old man who went for a run on Aug. 16, 2022, in Chongqing, without knowledge that he was infected with COVID-19. He reportedly did not wear a mask.

Despite the CCP claim that Patient Zero was responsible for the infections, scientists are skeptical. Outdoor transmission has proven to be extremely rare during the COVID-19 pandemic, prompting looser restrictions in outdoor settings from most authorities. Masking outside has been rare in most western countries and was hardly ever mandated even at the height of the pandemic.

“Avoid OUTDOOR TRANSMISSION CONFIRMED NOWHERE IS SAFE conclusions & be skeptical until data can back up these claims,” tweeted virologist Angela Rasmussen. Dr. Vinay Prasad added that the “study is garbage.”

Many observers critiqued the study for not including methodology or much hard data. It’s not entirely clear how the researchers came to the conclusion that the single man caused all 35 infections. (RELATED: Are The Anti-Lockdown Protests Rocking China A Threat To Xi’s Rule?)

“We know outdoor transmission has been exceedingly rare because places like S Korea have been exceptional at contact tracing,” tweeted Dr. Amy Maxmen. “We also know China govt wants to justify its Zero Covid policy. And we know from the Trump admin that govts interfere with epi reports to justify aims.”

China is still imposing strict lockdown measures over even the smallest of COVID-19 outbreaks. The CCP, which rarely faces public dissent due to crackdowns on free expression, has dealt with public protests of the “zero-COVID” policy, particularly in recent weeks. China’s vast lockdowns of millions of people in major cities has caused significant disruption to the global economy.