Wuhan plans to test 11 million people in 10 days after new cluster of Covid-19 infections emerge
China is preparing to test millions of people in Wuhan for coronavirus after ending its 35-day record of no new cases. The country has ordered authorities to formulate plans to carry out mass testing in a city of 11 million over 10 days, according to a state media report. The notice has not been made public yet.
Wuhan sprang back to life on April 8, after staying sealed for 75 long days. The city did not record new infections arising from its soil until recently when authorities confirmed six new infections — traced to an apartment compound.
Stating poor management, authorities have since removed the head of the street committee for the area, the state-run Xinhua news service reported. Authorities will conduct nucleic acid testing, which will detect a certain portion of the viral genetic material or RNA.
The reason behind the move is the country's dense population, which makes it vulnerable to large outbreaks.
Chen Xi, assistant professor at School of Public Health of Yale University, told the Global Times on Tuesday that China's cities are more densely populated than those in the West, so it is more necessary to address community transmission through such large-scale testing.
The country is not taking any chances this time despite testing a large number of residents already. According to The New York Times, companies have allowed employees to return to work only after testing.
Not all think the move is practical. Some Chinese experts believe this is unfeasible and expensive. Testing medical workers, vulnerable people and close contacts of infected individuals is a more appropriate approach, argued Peng Zhiyong, director of the intensive care unit of the Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University.
Another expert also agrees that large-scale screening and testing are unnecessary. Instead, the country should consider examining communities and a section of the population.
Yang Zhanqiu, deputy director of the pathogen biology department at Wuhan University, told the Global Times that Wuhan expanded the scale of its testing in April and tested targeted groups of people.
"About three to five million residents have been tested and proved healthy, and thus Wuhan is capable to test the remaining 6 to 8 million in 10 days," he said. The report has raised many questions among the Chinese people. "It is impossible to test so many people," one commenter, wrote on social media site, Weibo.
There are brewing cases elsewhere in the country. A city named Shulan, bordering North Korea, has come under the scanner after recording a spike in infections. On May 9, the city belonging to the Jilin province confirmed 11 new infections, prompting authorities to raise the threat level to high from medium.
Authorities have sealed the city, banning all non-essential travel and closing residential compounds and villages. They have shut schools too, asking students to study from home.
Earlier lauded for its efforts to defeat the virus, South Korea is finding itself in troubled waters again. "We must never lower our guard regarding epidemic prevention. We are in a prolonged war. I ask everyone to comply with safety precautions and rules until the situation is over, even after resuming daily lives," South Korean President Moon Jae-in said in a televised address.