Millions of people in Wuhan are being tested for the coronavirus after six new cases were reported in the central Chinese city last week. They are the first reported cases in 35 days, after a 76-day lockdown. None of the cases were imported from overseas, leading to fears of a new outbreak of mass infections at the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Details of the Testing
The city-wide nucleic acid testing are set to be carried out over ten days, with Wuhan authorities promising to test their 11 million residents. The scheme is also set to collect data on people who are asymptomatic, but may still be spreading the virus.
Experts, however, have criticized these measures as overzealous.
“In communities without infections, there is no need to screen everyone,” Wu Zunyou, chief epidemiologist of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention told CCTV.
‘It’s Not Over Until it’s Over’
Germany and South Korea, previously glowing examplars of effective pandemic control, have also seen renewed outbreaks after easing lockdown restrictions.
“It’s not over until it’s over,” South Korean President, Moon Jae-in said last week, in response to the emergence of a new cluster of coronavirus cases in the capital, Seoul. Experts have warned governments that re-opening countries must be handled with extreme caution and care to prevent a new rise in domestic transmission rates.
Fasehun Diipo, an NHS nurse working with coronavirus patients told InsideOver that: “There will most likely be a second wave of the pandemic in Europe, as countries lift their lockdowns, especially in light of the laissez-faire attitude with which the easing of the lockdowns are being implemented.
“Europe is rushing to lift its lockdowns,” he continued. “For example Germany has restarted its football league which will pull a lot of crowds. With schools reopening as well, children will not respect social distancing rules, and teachers cannot be expected to maintain total enforcement of the rules. All these bits and pieces are what will make the second outbreak possible, if stringent measures are not put into place.”
Shulan is Also Having a COVID-19 Comeback
Wuhan is not the only region in China experiencing a rise in domestic transmissibility. According to Chinese state media, Shulan, a high -risk region in China, has seen 15 new cases since last week. Shulan has now locked down all residential areas, banned all non-essential travel, and closed schools again. Other places with high public gatherings, such as restaurants and transport stations have also been closed.
“There is no vaccine yet for this disease: with trials still ongoing, we have not yet heard of a successful confirmation of vaccine trials,” Mr Diplo said.
“Without a viable vaccine we don’t have immunity, apart from any natural immunity that has developed in some people. I believe there should be a systematic release of the lockdown, but countries are rushing to bring their economy back up and save the financial sector. Countries are trying to become productive again, and that’s totally acceptable.
“Looking at the positive side, however, there is still a ban on inter-country flights, with only essential travel being allowed. That might just curtail the resurgence of a second wave, even for a little bit. The next two weeks will be very crucial for every country in the European world. We will need to follow, and to monitor, very accurately for a second outbreak of the virus, so that we can go on lockdown again if need be.”
‘This is a Wake-up Call’
For Diipo, more needs to be done by European governments to protect their citizens.
“This is a wake-up call for the government,” he explained, “because we can see that the government was not earlier prepared for this. We never really thought it would escalate to this stage, but now we are better prepare for a possible second wave.
He explained that he believed wide-scale tasts of populations are possible in countries. Using Britain as an example, he said: “Test numbers have been improving so far. There is an average testing facility within cities. You can now easily get a location where you can go to get tested. Frontline workers have virtually all been tested, so testing is not as difficult, or as impossible in the UK as it previously was during the peak of the pandemic. Testing, so far, has been a success in the UK, and it has helped us to progress positively. Testings are also a benchmark for us in the case of a second wave,” he added.
“The health secretary said earlier that the UK hoped to achieve 100,000 tests a day. With a population of about 66 million people, 100,000 tests daily is too low in comparison. He further stated that he would invite organisations in the private sector into the conversation to see how they can collaborate with the government to achieve that. We may not have reached the 100,000 mark, but we are progressing every day. There is no decline or derailment in testings at this moment in time.”
Coronavirus Cover-Ups in China
In the same week, a whistleblower report sent to NTD News shows that there has been a cover-up of coronavirus numbers in China’s hospitals. Chinese officials have previously been accused of covering up the severity of the virus by publishing inaccurate infection and death figures.
Asymptomatic cases are not counted as confirmed cases, despite asymptomatic carriers’ possession and transmission of the virus.
“It is important we tread carefully about countries like China (and Iran), because of the political sanctions upon these countries, and the tensions between China, Iran and the US,” Diipo said, adding that “The coronavirus has come to stay. It has come to change the way we live, the way we relate. We need to stay healthy, safe, exercise, and take our vitamins, because the coronavirus is going to be around for a very long time.”