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An Unprecedented Campaign to Test a City in Just 19 Days

Only 300 infections were detected in Wuhan
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 3, 2020 12:42 PM CDT

(Newser) – The Chinese city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus was first detected late last year, has tested nearly 10 million people in an unprecedented 19-day campaign to check an entire city. It identified just 300 positive cases, all of whom had no symptoms, reports the AP. The city found no infections among 1,174 close contacts of the people who tested positive, suggesting they were not spreading it easily to others. That's a potentially encouraging development because of widespread concern that infected people without symptoms could be silent spreaders of the disease. The campaign was launched after a small cluster of cases was found in a residential compound, sparking concern about a possible second wave of infections as Wuhan emerged from a 2.5-month lockdown.

A city official announced Tuesday that the city completed 9.9 million tests from May 14 to June 1. If those tested previously are included, virtually everyone above the age of 5 in the city of 11 million people has been tested, said Li Lanjuan, a member of a National Health Commission expert team. "The city of Wuhan is safe," she said at a news conference with city officials. The industrial city on the Yangtze River in central China spent about $125 million on the tests, the official Xinhua News Agency said, citing a Wuhan official. The rapid testing of so many people was made possible in part through batch testing, in which samples from up to five people are mixed together, Xinhua reported. If the result is positive, then the people are individually tested.

(Read more coronavirus stories.)

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