Wuhan to test entire 11m population as new cases raise fears of second coronavirus wave

A worker wearing a face mask checks passengers’ temperatures aafter their arrival at Hankou railway station in Wuhan – AFP

The Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicentre of the global coronavirus outbreak, plans to conduct city-wide nucleic acid testing over a 10-days period, according to an internal document seen by Reuters and two sources familiar with the situation.

Every district in the city has been told to submit a detailed testing plan for their respective area by Tuesday, the document showed.

The plans come with global alarm over a potential second wave of coronavirus infections growing on Monday after Germany reported that the reproduction ‘R’ rate of the virus had risen above one.

Wuhan reported its first cluster of coronavirus infections since lockdown was lifted a month ago, stoking concern about a wider coronavirus resurgence.

The five new confirmed cases, all from the same residential compound, come amid efforts to ease restrictions across China as businesses restart and individuals return to work.

“We must resolutely contain the risk of a rebound,” the health authority in Wuhan, a city with a population of about 11 million, said in a statement on Monday.

All the latest cases in Wuhan were previously classified as asymptomatic – people who test positive for the virus and are capable of infecting others but do not show clinical signs.

Hundreds of asymptomatic cases in Wuhan, which was released from its months-long lockdown on April 8, are being monitored.

On average, Wuhan has conducted about 47,000 nucleic acid tests each day since the lockdown was lifted, Reuters calculations based on reports by the city’s health authority show.

China does not include asymptomatic cases in its overall tally of confirmed cases, now at 82,918, until they exhibit signs of infection. Mainland China has reported 4,633 deaths.

New confirmed cases reported in China since April have been low compared with the thousands every day in February, thanks to a nationwide regime of screening, testing and quarantine.

Beijing said on Friday that cinemas, museums and other venues would gradually be reopened, although restrictions including mandatory reservations and a limit on numbers of visitors would be in place.

Despite fears of a second wave of the virus, some Shanghai nightspots are open again and Shanghai Disneyland has been reopened to a reduced number of visitors.


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