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COVID-19 Update: Wuhan Says Expanded Nucleic Acid Tests to be Free of Charge

May 18,2020 ByJIEYU WANGICHONGQING
  • There were 4,525,497 confirmed cases (100,012 new) globally, and 307,395 people (5,336 new) have lost their lives by 10:00 CEST May 17, according to the daily COVID-19 situation report released by the World Health Organization.
  • The Chinese mainland reported 5 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 from 0:00 to 24:00 on May 16, according to the National Health Commission on May 17. 
  • Xinhua reported that Wuhan will not charge individual testees as the central Chinese city moves to expand its nucleic acid tests to cover all residents who have not been tested for the novel coronavirus.
  • Secretary for Food and Health of China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government Sophia Chan said on Sunday that the Hong Kong SAR, Guangdong Province and the Macao SAR are discussing mutual recognition of quarantine measures and virus testing of COVID-19.

Three cases were domestically transmitted and reported in Jilin Province

Chinese health authority said Sunday that it received reports of five new confirmed COVID-19 cases on the Chinese mainland Saturday, of which two were imported. The other three cases were domestically transmitted and reported in Jilin Province, the National Health Commission said in its daily report.

One of the new imported cases was reported in Tianjin and the other in Guangdong Province, the commission said, adding that the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region and Shanghai both reported one suspected case from abroad. No deaths related to the disease were reported on Saturday, according to the commission.

On Saturday, eight people were discharged from hospitals after recovery, while the number of severe cases decreased by one to 10. Also on Saturday, the number of overall confirmed cases on the mainland was revised up by one to 82,947 and the newly added one was reported in Jilin Province, the commission said.

Medical staff of Xiaotangshan Hospital clean up a ward after the hospital cleared all COVID-19 cases in Beijing, capital of China, April 28, 2020. (Xinhua/Peng Ziyang)

Among the cases, 86 patients were still being treated, and 78,227 people had been discharged after recovery. Altogether 4,634 people had died of the disease, the commission said, noting that the tally added one case reported in Jilin Province after review on Saturday.

By Saturday, the mainland had reported a total of 1,700 imported cases. Of the cases, 1,656 had been discharged from hospitals after recovery, and 44 remained hospitalized with three in severe conditions. No deaths from the imported cases had been reported. According to the commission, 4,724 close contacts were still under medical observation after 633 people were discharged from medical observation Saturday.

Medical staff of Xiaotangshan Hospital clean up a ward after the hospital cleared all COVID-19 cases in Beijing, capital of China, April 28, 2020. (Xinhua/Peng Ziyang)

Also on Saturday, 12 new asymptomatic cases including one from abroad were reported on the mainland. No cases were re-categorized as confirmed ones, and 58 asymptomatic cases, including one from overseas, were discharged from medical observation. The commission said 515 asymptomatic cases, including 30 from overseas, were still under medical observation.

By Saturday, 1,052 confirmed cases including four deaths had been reported in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), 45 confirmed cases in the Macao SAR, and 440 in Taiwan including seven deaths. A total of 1,022 patients in Hong Kong, 44 in Macao, and 389 in Taiwan had been discharged from hospitals after recovery. 

Wuhan says expanded nucleic acid tests to be free of charge

Wuhan will not charge individual testees as the central Chinese city moves to expand its nucleic acid tests to cover all residents who have not been tested for the novel coronavirus. The city’s health commission said in a statement that the costs of the tests will be borne by the district and municipal governments, and no personal payment is required.

A resident takes the nucleic acid test at a testing post set up at a primary school in Dongxihu District in Wuhan, central China’s Hubei Province, May 15, 2020. (Xinhua/Xiao Yijiu)

Wuhan last week announced its plan to expand nucleic acid tests in order to better know the number of asymptomatic cases, or people who show no clear symptoms despite carrying the virus.

The decision was made as the city, hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak, continued to report daily increases of asymptomatic infections, raising public concerns as Wuhan reopens its factories, businesses, and schools. The testing will give priority to residential compounds that had previously reported infections, as well as old and densely populated buildings. Children under six are not advised to take the tests.

To minimize cross-infection risks, the commission said they will set up open-air testing sites in residential compounds and remind residents to maintain distance when lining up for the tests. Door-to-door sampling can be arranged for those who have trouble visiting the testing sites, it said.

Wuhan earlier this month reported six new confirmed cases of COVID-19, ending the zero-increase record it had held since April 4. All of the new infections were previously asymptomatic cases from one old residential compound. 

Guangdong, Hong Kong, Macao studying mutual recognition of quarantine measures, virus testing

Secretary for Food and Health of China’s Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) government Sophia Chan said on Sunday that the Hong Kong SAR, Guangdong Province and the Macao SAR are discussing mutual recognition of quarantine measures and virus testing of COVID-19.

Aerial photo taken on July 11, 2018 shows the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge in south China. (Xinhua/Liang Xu)

Chan said Guangdong, Hong Kong and Macao have taken different epidemic-prevention measures and are closely discussing how to achieve mutual recognition of these measures. The public will be noticed once a specific plan and a timetable are in place, she added.

She said the HKSAR government has been expanding the testing of COVID-19, and carrying out contact tracing of the recently confirmed local cases.

Regarding the relaxation of epidemic-prevention measures, Chan said the HKSAR government will make decisions based on more information through measures including expanding virus testing.

The anti-epidemic measures will be carried out in a reasonable and balanced manner, Chan said, adding the restrictions would be eased in a phased manner to allow Hong Kong residents’ livelihood and the economy to return to normal, and would be tightened again once there are rising risks.

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