Millions of Wuhan residents are going to be tested for the novel coronavirus within the coming days. This announcement follows a new cluster of cases emerging, despite a strict 76-day lockdown that was intended to eliminate the virus completely from the Chinese city.
According to reports from CNN, six new cases were reported in the city over the weekend, which marks the first in 35 consecutive days. Because none of these new cases were imported from overseas, it has sparked concern that the infection could still be spreading. In response to this unexpected outbreak, authorities in Wuhan are going to conduct city-wide nucleic acid testing over a period of 10 days, according to an emergency notice issued by local authorities and circulated by state run media outlet The Paper.
Nucleic acid tests, which work by detecting the virus’ genetic code, can be more effective at detecting the infection–particularly in the early stages–than tests which examine a body’s immune response. The ambitious screening drive could see up to 11 million people tested. Wuhan was the first city in the world to enter into lockdown and has been gradually returning to normal after their 76-day enforced lockdown lifted on April 8.
No new cases of the virus were reported in Wuhan as of Tuesday, but obviously, any major increase in numbers as a result of the city-wide testing will raise questions over the accuracy and transparency of the city’s previous figures–especially because officials are already facing accusations of covering up the severity of the virus.