Wuhan to test all residents for COVID-19 as Delta breaks ‘no-infection’ hiatus

China, which had managed to control the pandemic in its territory for a straight year, has experienced a sudden rise in Delta variant cases with 15 cities already reporting clusters of positive cases

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The administration of China’s Wuhan – the ground zero of SARS COV-2 – on Tuesday (August 3) announced that the entire population will be tested for the virus in view of a sudden surge in cases in the country.

China has been experiencing a sudden spike in Delta variant cases with 15 cities, including Beijing reporting clusters of positive cases.

Addressing a presser on Tuesday, senior Wuhan official Li Tao said the administration is “swiftly launching comprehensive nucleic acid testing of all residents” to diagnose infected patients. Wuhan has a population of 11 million.

The city which had managed to control the cases for a year, on Monday reported seven locally transmitted infections among migrant workers.


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According to reports, a fresh surge of cases was first reported among airport cleaners in Nanjing in Jiangsu province and then spread to five all provinces and Beijing municipality. The cases stood at 61 on Tuesday.

What has worried the government is the sudden spike in cases in the capital, after over 175 days of the last case. The city which houses a population of 22 million, is the home of top leadership, including President Xi Jingping.

The country which is yet to green-light flights from several countries including India, has suspended domestic flights and initiated mass testing on a war footing.

Beijing-bound international flights have been diverted to other cities where passengers had to undergo 21 days quarantine before entering the national capital. However, that bubble reportedly burst a few days ago when a high-ranking official from an African country who checked into a luxury hotel tested positive along with his delegation. Panicked officials sealed the hotel with hundreds of guests and staff who have to undergo 21-day quarantine, while the hunt is on to track hundreds of those who came in contact with them.

Nanjing, a city of over nine million, too suspended domestic and international flights on Friday as it dealt with clusters of cases in the airport, especially among the cleaning staff. About 200 coronavirus cases have been reported so far from there, according to official media reports.

The coronavirus outbreak in Nanjing originated from a flight from Russia, said Ding Jie, deputy director of the municipal centre for disease control and prevention. The viral genome sequencing of 52 cases in the outbreak showed that the new cases were highly homologous, suggesting the same transmission chain, and all strains were found to be the highly infectious Delta variant, Ding told a press conference on Friday.

Zhangjiajie, a popular tourist site in Hunan province and the shooting location of the James Camerons Hollywood blockbuster Avatar, is believed to be another key node on the infection chain. Four infected persons who had been to the Lukou airport were found watching a cultural performance with more than 2,000 people in Zhangjiajie on July 22, according to Global Times. Beijing reported two confirmed cases who returned from Zhangjiajie on Thursday.

The unexpected and extensive contagion starting from Nanjing has a strong psychological impact on the public, many of whom have loosened daily protective efforts or are planning their summer vacations, but have to cancel them.

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China has so far vaccinated about 40 per cent of its population, according to official media. The coronavirus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019. It then spread rapidly across China and the world and was declared in a state of a pandemic by the World Health Organisation in March 2020. Globally COVID-19 has infected more than 196,794,000 people and killed over 4,202,000 people, according to Johns Hopkins University COVID-19 tracker.

(With inputs from agencies)