The city of Wuhan in central China, where the coronavirus was first detected at the end of last year, said it had tested nearly 10 million residents in an unprecedented campaign of 19 days to check an entire city.
The effort identified only 300 positive cases, none of which showed symptoms. None of the 1174 people identified as close contacts of these patients were found to have the disease, suggesting that they did not easily spread it to others.
This is a potentially encouraging development due to the widespread concern that infected people without symptoms may be silent spreaders of the disease.
“The people of Wuhan not only feel comfortable, but it also increases the confidence of people all over China,” said Feng Zijian, deputy director of the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention. public television CCTV.
There is not yet a definitive answer on the level of risk posed by asymptomatic cases, with anecdotal evidence and studies to date producing contradictory answers.
Wuhan, which was cordoned off for months, was by far the most affected city in China, accounting for more than 80% of deaths in the country, according to government figures.
A city official announced on Tuesday that the city had carried out 9.9 million tests from May 14 to June 1. If those previously tested are included, almost every 11 million people in the city over five years have been tested, said Li Lanjuan, a member of an expert team at the National Health Commission.
“The city of Wuhan is safe,” she said at a press conference with city officials.
The city-wide 900 million yuan ($ 125 million) screening campaign began after the discovery of a small group of cases in a residential complex, raising concerns about a possible second wave of infections as Wuhan was two and a half months old. confinement.
Rapid testing of so many people was made possible in part by batch testing, in which samples of up to five people are mixed, Xinhua reported. If the result is positive, people are tested individually.
National resources have also been mobilized to help, said Wang Weihua, deputy director of the Wuhan Health Commission, according to Xinhua. Together, these efforts have increased Wuhan’s daily testing capacity from 300,000 to over a million, she said.