Wuhan residents brave rain, queues for COVID-19 mass-testing campaign

WUHAN, China (Reuters) – Residents in Wuhan braved pouring rain in queues of greater than an hour to participate in a government-led train to check the town’s 11 million individuals for the novel coronavirus, a scale well being consultants describe as unprecedented.

A medical employee in a protecting go well with conducts a nucleic acid testing for a resident as individuals carrying face masks queue behind for testings, at a residential compound in Wuhan, the Chinese metropolis hit hardest by the coronavirus illness (COVID-19) outbreak, Hubei province, China May 14, 2020. REUTERS/Aly Song

Authorities within the central Chinese metropolis, the place the worldwide pandemic started final yr and whose circumstances account for greater than 80% of the nation’s complete, began the campaign this week after a cluster of recent circumstances raised fears of a second wave of infections.

While Wuhan lifted its 76-day lockdown final month, considerations persist over what number of asymptomatic circumstances – individuals who present no signs however are able to spreading the virus – there could also be.

In Wuhan’s Qiaokou district, on the Zirun Mingyuan residence group the place about 10,000 individuals reside, males, girls and youngsters stood beneath umbrellas whereas aged residents perched on stools as they waited to get examined at 4 websites arrange in the course of the compound.

Many mentioned they have been notified by textual content by the compound’s residential committee on Tuesday that they might get examined in batches and have been beneath the impression it was voluntary and freed from cost.

Authorities say they purpose to check all 11 million residents, although the precedence are individuals from 12 classes, similar to college, medical, transport, grocery store and authorities employees and other people coming back from abroad or leaving Wuhan for work.

“Even though there weren’t any new cases in a while it seems Wuhan continues to have asymptomatic patients. Everyday there’s a few,” mentioned Zhu Fangmin, 43, who stood in a queue of greater than 60 individuals.

“It’s very likely these people could be around us so this wide-scale examination will put people’s mind at ease,” she mentioned.

One take a look at website was made up of two tables. At the primary, a volunteer took down identification particulars. The different was staffed by two nurses wearing face shields, gloves and hazmat fits, certainly one of whom took throat swabs from residents.

Some individuals expressed concern that they might catch the virus by means of the testing train, by standing within the queues. “I heard that the nurses aren’t switching their gloves,” mentioned one girl who gave her surname as Chen.


Health News, a newspaper affiliated to China’s National Health Commission, mentioned on Tuesday whereas the train would probably price Wuhan greater than 1 billion yuan, it might assist discover potential sources of an infection and supply reassurance for work resumption functions and to different provinces receiving travellers from Wuhan.

Wuhan now had a each day testing capability of 100,000 and 63 companies that might course of nucleic acid assessments, the newspaper mentioned. But if it wished to hit its goal of testing all residents in 10 days, it might want to check 730,000 individuals a day, it mentioned.

Reuters, citing an inside doc to district officers, reported on Monday that the town deliberate to conduct the campaign over 10 days. A authorities official mentioned on Wednesday metropolis districts might conduct assessments at their very own tempo for now as the town well being authority had but to problem a discover about formally beginning the assessments.

“I’m not aware of anything at this scale ever being performed in previous pandemics. It demonstrates the level of concern about the cluster of new infections,” mentioned Lawrence Young, Professor of Molecular Oncology on the University of Warwick.

“This approach will be interesting in identifying the degree of infection in asymptomatic individuals and how such individuals are responsible for spreading virus infection,” he mentioned.

Others mentioned testing on such a big scale posed its personal problem. “You need to make sure not one single sample is mistaken with another,” mentioned Dr. Chen Guangjie, an immunology professor at Shanghai Jiaotong University.

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While a scarcity of testing kits was blamed for slowing China’s response to the outbreak within the early days, by March assessments have been comparatively simple to acquire at Wuhan’s hospitals and clinics and residents have been advised they might get their outcomes by a cellular app.

Since Wuhan’s lockdown was lifted on April 8, the town has performed a mean of 47,422 assessments a day and greater than 1.66 million assessments in complete, based on Reuters calculations based mostly on well being authority stories.

Wuhan examined 67,026 individuals on May 13, authorities information confirmed, the second highest stage because it began publishing information on Feb. 21.

Reporting by Brenda Goh; Additional Reporting by Roxanne Liu and Ryan Woo in Beijing and Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Janet Lawrence