Wuhan held over 6.5 million coronavirus tests in just 9 days, according to state media. This is considered a bold move to forestall a second wave of infections.
The Chinese city of Wuhan is deemed as the epicenter of the global pandemic. Its citywide nucleic acid testing program was implemented after six new cases were reported in a residential community earlier in May.
That was the first time local infections emerged after the city eased its months-long lockdown in April.
Swab test samples were gathered from more than nine million residents from May 15 to May 23, according to China’s state-broadcaster CCTV reported. The figures account for over 80% of the city’s total population of 11 million.
Nucleic acid testing involves identifying the virus’ genetic code. The tests are reportedly more effective at spotting the infection, especially in the initial stages.
In addition, nucleic acid testing is considered better than tests that look into a body’s immune response, though the latter are easier to process.
The state-run Health Times reported that the mass testing was able to detect 198 asymptomatic cases. Asymptomatic cases refer to people who have the virus but do not manifest symptoms.
The testing drive was labeled as a “10-day battle” by local authorities. Analysts find the campaign’s speed and scope measuring up to the testing capacity of many countries, including that of the US.
On Friday alone, Wuhan was able to perform 1.47 million tests, according to CCTV.
Wuhan built sampling booths in neighborhoods across the city. Residents wore face masks and lined up to take their swab tests.
Authorities set up 231 extra testing booths on Saturday for residents who were not able to take the earlier tests, according to the Changjiang Daily, the official Communist Party mouthpiece in Wuhan.
The Changjiang Daily reported that health care workers also went to the house of some elderly and disabled residents to have their samples taken.
Chinese news outlet Caixin said that Wuhan’s health authorities conducted a method called “pool testing” to test quickly and widely. This is the process of combining some of the samples taken from multiple individuals together and testing them in a single tube.
In April, scientists in Germany proposed the pooling of coronavirus samples to maximize testing capacity when huge numbers of asymptomatic people need to be examined, according to their research published in the medical journal The Lancet.
In a new report, a team of researchers say they find coronavirus testing in the US not accurate enough to become a basis of most decisions. These decisions include whether it is safe to return to work or school.
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