The administration of Wuhan city in China’s Hubei province, where the novel coronavirus was first reported, on Tuesday decided to test all its 1.1 crore residents, due to a fresh cluster of community cases, according to the South China Morning Post.
The Wuhan Covid-19 Epidemic Prevention Headquarters ordered all districts in the city to come up with plans for testing all 1.1 crore residents within 10 days. The headquarters asked the districts to submit the plans by Tuesday itself. It is not known whether this stage of the process has been completed.
The headquarters said in its order that both permanent residents and visitors should be tested.
The Chinese government had imposed a complete lockdown in Wuhan from January 23, in order to control the spread of Covid-19. Wuhan once had the majority of China’s 84,000-plus cases. After the outbreak was controlled and the number of cases declined sharply, the lockdown was lifted on April 8.
However, six new cases of the coronavirus were detected in Wuhan over the weekend from a single residential compound, after which authorities conducted 5,000 tests within the complex itself. Before this, the city had not reported a single case since April 3.
Wang Zhonglin, the Communist Party chief in Wuhan, said in a Covid-19 control meeting on Monday that the city must expand its testing regime, and centralise the process. The city’s health commission had earlier this month said that Wuhan conducted nearly 10 lakh tests by April 29.
An unidentified professor of epidemiology told the South China Morning Post that large-scale testing was required to prevent a second wave of infections. “The new cases in Wuhan show there is a real risk of a second wave of potential transmission in the community by the asymptomatic carriers or mild symptoms,” he said. “Tests on a broad scale can help find these hidden carriers and eliminate that risk.”
Globally, the novel coronavirus has so far affected over 42 lakh people, and killed more than 2.88 lakh, according to the Johns Hopkins University.