Here’s how Wuhan tested 6.5 million people for the coronavirus in days.
The Wuhan government is close to completing its citywide testing drive. Thousands of medical and other workers were mobilized in a feat that some health experts and residents had initially questioned.
But medical workers armed with coronavirus test swabs have scoured construction sites and markets to look for itinerant workers while others made house calls to reach older residents and people with disabilities. Officials aired announcements over loudspeakers urging people to sign up for their own good.
The unprecedented campaign to screen virtually all 11 million people in Wuhan, the central Chinese city where the coronavirus pandemic originated, began just two weeks ago. And the government is making progress toward that goal, with 6.5 million tested so far.
“Our community was checked in a day,” said Wang Yuan, a 32-year-old resident who lined up under red tents near her home and had her throat swabbed by medical workers wearing protective suits and face shields. She expected to get her results within two to four days.
While other governments have struggled to provide testing for their populations on a broad scale, China has embarked on a citywide campaign to prevent a resurgence of infections at all costs. It has succeeded, according to residents and Chinese news reports, by mobilizing thousands of medical and other workers and spending hundreds of millions of dollars.
The government, which is covering the cost of testing, sees the drive as key to the restoration of public confidence that is needed to help restart the economy and return to some level of normalcy. But public health experts disagree on whether such a resource-intensive push is necessary when infections are low.
The drive — which has reached more than 90 percent of the city after taking into account people who had been recently tested and children — has largely confirmed that Wuhan has tamed the outbreak. By Tuesday, only around 200 cases had been found, mostly people who showed no symptoms, though samples were still being processed.