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Chinese Authority Begins House-to-House Coronavirus Test

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(AFRICAN EXAMINER) – Authorities in the Chinese city of Wuhan where the novel coronavirus emerged Wednesday launched an ambitious test campaign.

The campaign was to test all the 11 million residents of Wuhan, after a cluster of new cases raised fears of a second wave of infections.

The residents said at least two of the city’s main districts have delivered notices of the campaign door-to-door and sent out online questionnaires through community workers seeking information about tests people have had, and if they belong to what are deemed high-risk groups.

“To better make use of nucleic acid tests as a monitoring tool and in accordance to the state cabinet’s requirements to expand testing.

“We’ve decided after consideration to conduct testing for all residents,’’ according to a questionnaire sent to residents of the city’s Wuchang district, which has a population of about 1.2 million.

Wuhan was placed under a lockdown on January 23 and it was only lifted on April 8. It reported six new cases over the weekend, the first infections since the curbs were removed.

The city reportedly planned to conduct the campaign of city-wide nucleic acid tests over 10 days.

Residents of two city districts, Wuchang and Hankou, the latter with a population of more than 2.6 million, said they were told on Wednesday to provide personal details including any history of nucleic acid tests and whether they belonged to any of 12 key groups, according to four residents and copies of questionnaires.

The tests would include both nucleic acid and serum anti-body tests, according to a notice issued by Wuchang district.

The 12 key groups include confirmed and asymptomatic coronavirus cases and their close contacts, people with a fever, school, medical, transport, bank, supermarket and government workers, and people coming back from overseas or who plan to leave Wuhan for work.

Asymptomatic cases, or people who have tested positive but show no clinical symptoms such as a fever, are capable of spreading the virus to others. China does not disclose estimates of the number of such cases.

The Wuchang district said in its notice, it aimed to test all residents, but stressed testing for those in the 12 categories must reach 100 per cent.’’.

Wuhan is divided into 13 districts, and covers an area of about 8,500sq km, almost as big as the New York metropolitan area.

The Wuhan government said on April 23 that the city had 53 laboratories to process tests and 211 locations where nucleic acid tests can be done.

It was not clear when the tests would be conducted in Wuchang, but some residents of Hankou said testing had started there.

The Wuhan government’s public relations office was not immediately available for comment on the campaign.

An official at the city government’s Mayor’s Hotline confirmed the city’s plan to test all residents but noted there has been no notice by the city health authority about officially starting the tests.

Different city districts could be conducting tests at their own pace for now, the official said.

Since the Wuhan’s lockdown was lifted, the city has conducted an average of 47,000 tests a day and over 1.5 million tests in total.

Out of China’s total of nearly 83,000 confirmed infections, Wuhan accounted for 50,339 of them. The tally does not include asymptomatic cases.

Over 3,800 people in Wuhan according to authorities have died from the virus. The figure represents about 80 per cent of China’s fatalities.

It is not clear if Wuhan residents will have to pay for their test or if the local government will cover the cost.

Hubei provincial authorities reports said have gradually brought down testing costs and recently capped prices of nucleic acid and IgM/IgG antibody tests at 180 yuan ($25) and 50 yuan ($7), respectively./NAN

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