As the number of coronavirus cases recedes in China, the authorities are working even harder to ensure total elimination of the virus. Over the weekend, six new cases were discovered in a residential compound called Sanmin, in the city of Wuhan where the pandemic originated.
In a quick response, the authorities ordered a retest of all 14 million residents in Wuhan. The new test will cover both the permanent and mobile population of the city. As 5,000 people were tested, five more cases were detected and it enforced the idea to conduct the test covering the whole of Wuhan.
The Chinese authorities have been wary of the new wave of the outbreak, especially in Wuhan that the order to conduct a fresh test came as fast as new cases were uncovered.
A Chinese professor of epidemiology, who spoke on anonymity, said the fear of a new wave of infections has prompted the order for massive tests.
“The new cases in Wuhan show there is a real risk of a second wave of potential transmission in the community by the asymptomatic carriers or mild symptoms. COVID-19 started with a few after all. Tests on such a broad scale can help find these hidden carriers and eliminate that risk,” he said.
The professor said that China’s testing capacity has been expanded since December 2019, so that a fresh test for the 14 million Wuhan population wouldn’t be a difficult task to execute.
The Chinese authorities have seen testing as a key factor in arresting the pandemic, and are working to expand the capacity of each city to conduct more tests. Wuhan party chief Wang Zhonglin said the city needs to expand its testing regime and also centralize the process.
“We must realize deeply that decisive achievements do not mean a decisive victory, and that downgrading the emergency response does not mean downgrading defenses,” he said
Wuhan was caught up in a ‘downplay of figures’ that forced a review of the number of coronavirus cases upward back in April. Since December, the city has reported 50,339 cases of COVID-19, which resulted in 3,869 deaths.
Dirk Pfeiffer, a professor of epidemiology at the City University of Hong Kong said the authorities’ plan to retest the city of Wuhan is a positive move that will correct any miscalculation that may have taken place before.
“The more cases that can be found the better. Every diagnostic test will produce some negatives and also some false positives.
“So, this test will also miss a small number of infected people, but given the infectiousness of COVID-19, wherever they find a positive, they will probably examine any individuals that have been in contact and will thereby further increase the diagnostic sensitivity of their approach,” he said.
Unlike Europe and the United States, China aggressively enforced lockdown, isolation and testing from the early stage of the lockdown. Experts believe that it contributed largely to the reason the virus was rapidly contained in the south Asian country.
The U.S. has the highest number of the COVID-19 infection with over 1.38 million as of 12 of May. The U.K has 223, 100. Russia came up surprisingly on the chart, beating Spain with a peak of 232,200 confirmed cases. Spain has 269, 500 cases against the receding 219,800 cases in Italy.
How China with its massive population managed to keep the figures at 82,919 is an awe that is emanating from its restriction and testing measures. The rest of the world has failed to decisively enforce strict measures on socialization and work, and the increasing numbers are telling the story.
In Africa, infrastructural deficiencies and economic downturns are forcing the governments to lift lockdowns prematurely, which results in unprecedented increment in cases. South Africa has recorded 10,652 cases as result of the surge that came following the relaxation of its lockdown on May 1. Ghana’s figures rose by over 25% after the West African country lifted its lockdown prematurely. The cases have risen to 4,700 with a significant increase from April.
On other hand, Nigeria is recording a daily rise in the numbers after the government partially lifted the restrictions. In the northern part of the country, many have been killed by some ailments attributed to mystery even though it has symptoms similar to COVID-19. While the implication of a prolonged total lockdown on Africa’s fragile economy is undeniably as deadly as the disease itself, experts have pointed at strategic restrictions following China’s example, as a way out. That includes compulsory use of facemask.