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Wuhan plans to conduct tests on population of 11m: Report

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Officials ordered to submit test plan after new cluster emerges in city where Covid-19 first emerged

WUHAN Wuhan plans to conduct coronavirus tests on the city's entire population after new cases emerged for the first time in weeks in the cradle of the global pandemic.

State media reported that officials had been ordered to submit plans to administer nucleic acid tests on all residents in the city of 11 million people, according to an official notice.

"Each district should make plans and arrangements to conduct nucleic acid tests on the entire population in its jurisdiction within a 10-day time limit," the notice said, although it was unclear when testing would begin.

The plan comes after Wuhan reported the first cluster of new Covid-19 infections since the city reopened after a 76-day lockdown on April 8.

Six new cases were reported on Sunday and Monday from a residential compound in Dongxihu District. China reported no new domestic coronavirus infections yesterday.

The country had 115 confirmed cases before the latest infections, while 5,470 people were under medical observation.

While various media were reporting that all of Wuhan would be tested, an official from the Dongxihu District epidemic prevention and control commanding office told AFP that they have "not yet received news about the notice".

Mr Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, told state broadcaster CCTV it was "not necessary" for every person in Wuhan to be tested. "Neighbourhoods without any cases don't need to screen every person," Mr Wu said, while large-scale screening should focus on "key jobs" and other criteria.

Wuhan has reported 3,869 deaths since the coronavirus first emerged there in December, accounting for most fatalities in China. Scientists believe the virus jumped from animals to humans at a market that sold wildlife in the city.

The reappearance of clusters suggested that counter-epidemic measures could not be relaxed, a spokesman for the National Health Commission told a media briefing.


While prevention and control efforts had normalised, that did not mean measures could be eased, the spokesman said.

A major worry is asymptomatic cases - people who show no clinical signs of infection but spread the virus. The number of such cases is not known as they appear only on the radar of health authorities when they show up in tests.

In Beijing, where just 13 cases are still being treated, health authorities also warned against complacency.

"Even after the 13 patients have recovered and have been discharged from hospital, it does not mean there is zero risk afterwards," Mr Lei Haichao, head of the Beijing Health Commission, told a media briefing. - AFP, REUTERS