Wuhan, the hardest hit city in China by the COVID-19 outbreak announced a 10-day city-wide coronavirus test of all residents starting on Wednesday. It’s a “10-day battle” in response to six newly reported confirmed cases over the last weekend, the first in 35 consecutive days.
The large-scale testing targets at-risk groups, including previous confirmed patients and close-contact teachers, medical workers, public transport workers, public service workers in shopping malls and others. Old neighborhoods, densely populated communities and communities with mobile populations are also key areas to be screened and tested. “The testing for the city with a 12-million population will probably cost over two billion yuan,” said a doctor from a Grade-A tertiary hospital in Wuhan.
Such an all-encompassing testing that requires large spending for the local government marks the true reopening of Wuhan, coupled with the comprehensive resumption of work and production in the transportation hub as well as disease prevention and control work turning into a new normal. As testing for all city residents will expose asymptomatic patients and cut transmission channels, this will act as a solution to eradicate the problem of clustered infections so that a second wave of epidemic in the city won’t be possible.
Wuhan’s rigorous move is also a bold answer to some Western politicians’ allegations that China’s data of confirmed cases and deaths of COVID-19 is unreliable. The Chinese government has always upheld the principles of authenticity, transparency and openness in data sharing. On April 17, the Wuhan government revised some official figures, including the city's confirmed cases and accumulated death toll. Data revisions and city-wide testing reflects the Chinese government’s commitment to the world that it will never hide the truth of the epidemic and will always be responsible in containing the spread of the virus.
All expenses of the testing will be covered by the government, which is very humane and projected to reassure local residents so that they can gain a greater sense of security of living a normal life. Within the 10-day battle, over one million residents will be tested each day. In comparison, the US has been carrying out about 300,000 tests per day. And the shortage of testing kits and other medical facilities has become an acute problem as many potential carriers of the virus in the US cannot be tested on time. While the Wuhan government has always prioritized people’s lives by putting the city under a 76-day lockdown and now by making a commitment to all citizens to ease their worries of potential asymptomatic patients and clustered infections.
With the pandemic to continue around the world and effective vaccines yet to be developed, public health experts warn that sporadic cases may continue for some time and the key to controlling such cases is to locate the infection chain, isolate infected patients and others in the incubation period. Disease prevention and control will prevail as an important task for quite a long time, and what’s critical is to strike a balance between anti-epidemic fight and the normalization of economic and daily activities.
Amid the rebirth of the hard-hit Wuhan city, the city-wide testing will act as a reminder to all Wuhaners to stay vigilant and alert of COVID-19 and prepare themselves for a better life ahead.