By Agence France-Presse
Nervous residents of China’s pandemic epicentre of Wuhan queued up across the city to be tested for the novel coronavirus on Thursday after a new cluster of cases sparked a mass screening campaign.
Lines of residents keeping their social distance formed at makeshift testing sites set up under tents in parking lots, parks and residential communities as rain trickled down in the metropolis of 11 million people.
“This is a good thing. It’s a way to be responsible towards others and to yourself,” a 40-year-old man told AFP after completing the process.
The man had already been tested 10 days before, but given Wuhan’s history as the source of the virus and China’s worst-hit city he welcomed a little extra assurance.
“If you have the opportunity, wouldn’t you do it again?” he asked.
The previously unknown contagion emerged in Wuhan in late 2019, prompting the Chinese government to impose a tight lockdown on the city on January 23, isolating the industrial and transport centre from the rest of the country and confining residents to their homes.
According to government figures more than 3,800 people have died from COVID-19 in the city, accounting for the vast majority of fatalities in China.
AFP / Hector RETAMAL
Life is slowly returning to normal in Wuhan, where a coronavirus lockdown was lifted in April
The quarantine was only fully lifted in early April, and life is slowly returning to normal.
But Wuhan was given a fresh jolt when several new local infections emerged last weekend after more than a month in which none were reported.
Fearful of a reliving the virus nightmare, officials have launched a drive to conduct nucleic acid tests on the city’s entire population.
Men, women, children and the elderly filed forward to medical workers in head-to-toe white protective suits and plastic face shields, who recorded their personal details before quickly jabbing a swab into the backs of their throats.