Loopholes in the health screening process and inadequate quarantine measures for people arriving from abroad are the main factors for the looming new crisis, according to state-run Global Times.
The stark warning comes as former epicentre Hubei Province, apart from its capital Wuhan, is set to lift travel restrictions tonight after being locked down for two months.
It also comes as Wuhan has registered its first native infection, a doctor, after reporting zero cases for five consecutive days.
A high proportion of asymptomatic cases – people who carry the virus but show no symptoms – is another contributing factor to the potential outbreak, said Global Times in an article published yesterday.
One-in-three positive coronavirus tests are from ‘silent carriers’ who show no symptoms, according to classified Chinese government data viewed by South China Morning Post.
Even though the number of daily cases has dropped to zero in Wuhan, where the epidemic emerged in December, the city is not counting in asymptomatic infections, sparing public fears that they can be a ticking time bomb.
Faced with public pressure, Wuhan Municipal Health Commission yesterday released a statement, saying all asymptomatic cases would need to be isolated in quarantine camps for 14 days.
These silent carriers would be identified when officials screen the close contacts of confirmed patients and investigate cluster infections, according to the document.