Fresh test for Wuhan as cluster sparks mass virus screening

WUHAN, CHINA (AFP) – Nervous residents of China’s pandemic epicentre of Wuhan queued up across the city to be tested for the novel coronavirus after a new cluster of cases sparked a mass screening campaign.

Lines of residents keeping their social distance formed at makeshift testing sites set up under tents in parking lots, parks and residential communities as rain trickled down in the metropolis of 11 million people.

“This is a good thing. It’s a way to be responsible towards others and to yourself,” a 40-year-old man told AFP after completing the process. The man had already been tested 10 days before, but given Wuhan’s history as the source of the virus and China’s worst-hit city he welcomed a little extra assurance.

“If you have the opportunity, wouldn’t you do it again?” he asked.

The previously unknown contagion emerged in Wuhan in late 2019, prompting the Chinese government to impose a tight lockdown on the city on January 23, isolating the industrial and transport centre from the rest of the country and confining residents to their homes. According to government figures more than 3,800 people have died from COVID-19 in the city, accounting for the vast majority of fatalities in China.

The quarantine was only fully lifted in early April, and life is slowly returning to normal.

A medical worker takes a swab sample from a woman to be tested for the COVID-19 in Wuhan in China’s central Hubei province. PHOTO: AFP