Wuhan tests seven million residents in 12 days

Authorities in Wuhan said they have completed a citywide testing drive of every resident after the reemergence of a cluster of new coronavirus cases sparked fears of a second wave of infections at the birthplace of the now deadly pandemic.

Wuhan government said it tested nearly seven million people in 12 days in the city of over 11 million, several Chinese local media reported Wednesday.

A total of 6.68 million people underwent nucleic acid tests, of which 206 asymptomatic cases were reported, according to Bloomberg calculations based on daily numbers released by the local health commission.

Residents who have not been tested before, and people living in residential compounds with previous cases of infection, or old or densely populated estates were prioritised in the ambitious testing regime.

PREMIUM TIMES, citing a widely circulated document from Wuhan’s anti-virus department, reported how the campaign was kick-started on May 12 after six new cases were recorded more than a month after no infections had been seen in the entire city.

Thousands of medical and other workers were mobilised for the testing regimen that saw residents of the city that relaxed its 76-day lockdown in early April troop out for the exercise that experts say underlines China’s anxiety over the resurgence of the virus which infected more than 82,000 of its people, killing over 4 thousand.

Although the few newly reported cases in Wuhan are asymptomatic and appear under control, experts said they highlight the risk that China could face another largescale spread.

The pace of testing increased rapidly over the course of the campaign, with the city offering tests to over 1.1 million people on May 23, more than 26 times the number that was completed on the first day, according to the Wuhan Health Commission.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said the Asian country cannot afford to “ruin the hard-won achievement” of containing the virus at a meeting with representatives from Hubei, the province of which Wuhan is the capital, Bloomberg reported.

Even though COVID-19, the potentially dangerous pneumonia-like disease caused by the coronavirus, is said to have emanated from a local Wuhan market to spread to almost 200 countries, claiming more than 350,000 lives and sickening more than five million in five months, Chinese authorities have led the fight against the contagion.

China managed to contain the spread of the virus through rapid testing, fumigation of entire streets, adherence to safety guidelines and restrictions that locked down hundreds of millions of residents for 11 weeks from mid-February to early April when the total lockdown was lifted.

Even before the mandated citywide testing in Wuhan, many companies in the city had taken the initiative to test all their employees before they returned to work because they risked getting shut down again if even a single infection was found.

China has also embarked on a serological survey to determine the true scale of its outbreak. The project involves researchers taking blood samples from a representative group of people to see if they have generated antibodies to fight the virus.