Due to the timing of China’s upcoming “Lianghui” political meeting on May 21, some analysts believe authorities want to conduct widespread testing in order to avoid any infected officials from traveling to Beijing for the conference.
The Wuhan government “urgently notified” all districts in the city to perform a so-called “ten-day battle,” according to an internal document dated May 11 that was leaked online. City authorities instructed that all residents—long-term and temporary—must take a nucleic acid test. Testing must be completed by May 22.
The city asked each district government to report their testing plans before noon on May 12.
Chinese state-run media The Paper quoted a Wuhan district government official saying that he arranged for testing overnight on May 11.
Some Wuhan residents from the Gexin neighborhood, located in Dongxihu district, posted online notices they received from local authorities, which said: “The tests must not leave out anyone. All people must be covered.”
For residents who already took the test within the past seven days, the notice instructed them to register with their previous test results.
Wang Chen, a respiratory specialist and vice president of the state-run Chinese Academy of Engineering said during an April 28 national meeting about virus response: “The results of the nucleic acid test is more important than a passport. It is important evidence to allow people to move between cities.”
U.S.-based China affairs commentator Tang Jingyuan noted that given Wuhan’s large population, the city alone likely does not have the capacity to test all samples.
Tang predicted that samples will have to be shipped to other cities for testing—meaning the decision to test all Wuhan residents requires national coordination, and thus, central government approval.
“I think the Beijing regime has two purposes [for this decision]. One is to keep track of Wuhan residents who go to Beijing,” Tang said.
Currently, Wuhan residents are not allowed to travel to another city without taking a nucleic acid test. As testing is to be completed within the next ten days, residents cannot readily leave the city in the meantime.
“The second purpose is to find out all the infections. Although the regime only announced a cluster outbreak at one residential compound, locals have reported several other outbreaks. I believe that authorities want to take this chance to find all asymptomatic carriers,” Tang added.
Outbreak In Wuhan
After Wuhan lifted lockdown measures on April 8, the city government did not announce any new cases for weeks, encouraging people to return to work as soon as possible.
On May 6, the government reopened high schools, technical schools, and vocational schools for senior students, promoting the reopening as a sign that the outbreak was under control.
However, on May 10, authorities announced that an 89-year-old man was diagnosed with the virus on May 9. A day later, authorities announced five more patients, who live at the same residential compound as the elderly man. The government locked down the compound, sent hundreds of other residents to quarantine centers, and arranged all 4,900-plus residents to take nucleic acid tests.
On May 12, Hubei Province, where Wuhan is capital, announced 11 new asymptomatic carriers. without indicating where they were diagnosed.
On the same day, the island province of Hainan announced one imported asymptomatic carrier, who traveled to the island from Wuhan by plane on May 10, which suggested that he was infected with the virus in Wuhan.
Chongqing city in southwestern China also announced two imported asymptomatic carriers on May 12, who traveled from Hubei.
These official announcements indicate that the virus is still spreading in Wuhan and other Hubei cities.
On May 11, Wuhan locals posted a video on social media platforms, showing several security guards in front of a local supermarket on Jinghan avenue.
According to the posts, the supermarket was locked down after a staff inside was diagnosed as an asymptomatic carrier.
On the same day, the local branch of Chinese panel display manufacturer China Star Optoelectronics Technology opened its doors to recruit workers.
As hundreds of people lined up to inquire about the jobs, the company suddenly announced that recruitment was canceled, without providing a reason. Wuhan netizens said they believed it was due to fears of the virus spreading.