Wuhan wraps up Covid-19 tests, 300 silent spreaders isolated from 10 million

A total of 9,899,828 NATs were carried out between May 14 and June 1, a mass testing campaign that was ordered after a cluster infection emerged in a residential complex in Wuhan, a month after the city was gradually eased out of an 11-week lockdown.
A child reacts while undergoing nucleic acid testing in Wuhan, the Chinese city hit hardest by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak, Hubei province.(REUTERS)
A child reacts while undergoing nucleic acid testing in Wuhan, the Chinese city hit hardest by the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) outbreak, Hubei province.(REUTERS)
Updated on Jun 02, 2020 05:00 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, Beijing | BySutirtho Patranobis

The first epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic, Wuhan, has tested more than 9.89 million residents for the virus since last month, completing the widest mass testing for the virus in less than three weeks.

While not a single confirmed case was detected in the nucleic acid tests (NAT) conducted in Wuhan, 300 residents -- .003 %-- turned out to be asymptomatic or those who are infected but don’t show Covid-19 symptoms and yet could infect others, local health officials said on Tuesday.

China doesn’t count asymptomatic cases as confirmed ones.

A total of 9,899,828 NATs were carried out between May 14 and June 1, a mass testing campaign that was ordered after a cluster infection emerged in a residential complex in Wuhan, a month after the city was gradually eased out of an 11-week lockdown.

More than 1,100 close contacts of the asymptomatic residents were tracked and isolated, officials said.

The coronavirus first emerged late last year in Wuhan, the capital of the central Chinese province of Hubei, before spreading across China and then, rapidly, worldwide.

The city of Wuhan and the province of Hubei bore the brunt of the outbreak in China, accounting for more than 60,000 cases and majority of deaths.

The unusual decision to mass test and its implementation were closely followed by governments and health authorities globally as the world continues to grapple with the pandemic, especially tracking down silent spreaders.

The campaign will be difficult to replicate because of the massive mobilisation of resources required that includes deploying thousands of medics and setting up hundreds of temporary testing centres.

Nearly 10 million tests could be completed in less than three weeks in Wuhan partly because medics also carried out batch testing of samples – maximum five samples at a time.

If the batch result was positive, the individuals were separately tested.

The cost for the tests was borne by the government.

The total expenditure was around 900 million yuan or $126 million; an individual test cost 106 yuan or around $15.

“The city had set up a maximum of 2907 sampling points in a single day, with more than 280,000 staff members and more than 50,000 medical staff participating in sampling and services,” Wang Weihua, deputy director of the Wuhan Municipal Health Commission said at a press conference in Wuhan on Tuesday.

Also on June 1, the Wuhan Centre for Disease Control collected random swab samples of tap water and domestic sewage, and from taxis, buses, subway cars and stations, shopping malls, restaurants and parks, said Li Lanjuan, a member of the high-level expert group of the National Health and Health Commission and an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering:

A total of “…2314 samples, the test results are negative,” Li said.

Hu Yabo, Wuhan’s deputy mayor said the testing will bring “peace of mind” to the residents of the city, which is gradually returning to normalcy.

“It (the testing) will definitely promote urban economic and social development on the right track as soon as possible. This investment is totally worth it,” Hu said.

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