Wuhan, the city in central China where the pandemic first emerged, is planning to test all of its 11 million residents for the coronavirus, officials said on Tuesday, as they announced the first local transmission there since last spring.
The city, the first to show the world the damage the virus could wreak, had not recorded any local cases since May of last year, after a harsh two-and-a-half month lockdown helped eradicate the virus there. But city officials said they had detected three symptomatic local cases in the previous 24 hours, as well as five asymptomatic ones.
Wuhan had some of China’s strictest measures to stop the spread of the virus, and many residents continued to wear masks even as people elsewhere relaxed as the country brought the outbreak under control. But China is battling several new flare-ups as the Delta variant makes inroads, including in the cities of Nanjing and Zhangjiajie, and several more in the country’s south. The authorities in Zhangjiajie also barred residents and tourists from leaving the city, imposing a de facto lockdown.
Wuhan had previously tested all its residents in two weeks last spring, mobilizing the Chinese Communist Party’s vast network of local officials in a feat unprecedented at the time. Since then, the country has carried out several mass testing campaigns.
Officials said that Wuhan was a major transportation hub and that it was crucial to cut off any further transmission there. Liu Dongru, a provincial health official, said at a news conference on Tuesday that the authorities would “firmly protect the hard-won results against the epidemic.”
Officials also announced on Tuesday that large-scale gatherings would be prohibited. They encouraged residents not to leave Wuhan and suspended offline classes.
Amy Chang Chien contributed reporting.