Wuhan universal test begins, to determine asymptomatic rates

By Zhang Hui Source:Global Times Published: 2020/5/14 21:38:51

Staff members work in a laboratory in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, Feb. 13, 2020. As a designated service provider of nucleic acid detection of the novel coronavirus, KingMed Diagnostics laboratory in Wuhan conducts non-stop detection service and detects over 2,000 samples from various cities in Hubei Province every day. (Xinhua/Xiong Qi/IANS)

 Wuhan, the city worst-hit by the COVID-19 in China, is undergoing a weeklong citywide nucleic acid testing for its 11 million residents, which medical experts believe could help assure residents, find out the proportion of silent carriers and offer reference for the nation to prevent a possible resurgence of COVID-19. 

The test, from Wednesday to May 20, is being conducted after a Wuhan community in Dongxihu district saw six new COVID-19 cases on Monday. 

A resident surnamed Wang in Qiaokou district in Wuhan, who took free nucleic acid tests on Wednesday, told the Global Times on Thursday that residents in her community were organized by local community committee workers to go through the test in the outdoor community garden after registering their identification. 

"It only took about 15 minutes. I lined up in the garden and then a nurse took a sample from my throat and it was done," Wang said.  

She has not checked the results yet. She said it's her second test, and she tested last month before resuming work and got the results from a mobile application in 24 hours. 

Some Wuhan residents said the citywide tests make them feel safe, but they are also worried that the city may not have enough medics and nucleic acid test kits. Wang said she saw some communities recruiting nurses for the tests. 

Not just residents in communities, hospitals are also testing their patients.  

Peng Zhiyong, director of the intensive care unit of the Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University, told the Global Times on Thursday that his hospital is testing all patients, and each patient has to take nucleic acid test twice. 

He said that tests could assure residents, as many were concerned about the risk of a resurgence of COVID-19 in Wuhan.

Wang Peiyu, deputy head of Peking University's School of Public Health, told the Global Times that citywide tests in Wuhan are significant to estimate the proportion of the population infected in the country's worst-hit region, especially figuring out the number of asymptomatic carriers to prevent a possible second wave of epidemic. 

"There is still a lot we don't know about asymptomatic infections, and it's possible that those silent carriers could infect a large number of communities," Wang said. 

He said Wuhan's test results could offer a reference for other provinces and cities in estimating the total infected proportion, and adjust prevention and control measures based on the results. 

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