Authorities in Wuhan locked down certain districts of the city on Thursday, restricting access into and out of residential communities amid a resurgence of Wuhan coronavirus cases in the city where the virus first emerged late last year, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported.
On Monday, Wuhan, the epicenter of China’s coronavirus outbreak in December 2019, reported six new cases of the Wuhan coronavirus in what government officials claimed was the first cluster of new cases since Wuhan’s lockdown was lifted one month ago, Caixin Global – a Bejing-based news outlet owned by a state-run press group – reported on Tuesday.
All cases confirmed Monday were reportedly recorded within the previous 24 hours, and all were documented within the same residential compound. The announcement prompted the local government to raise the coronavirus risk level from low to medium in the city district surrounding the compound. The report added that a local government official had been fired amid news of the coronavirus resurgence in Wuhan.
News of the resurgence followed weeks of government authorities alleging that Wuhan and other parts of Hubei province were “free” of coronavirus, assuring the public that the region was ready to open again following an extended lockdown.
According to RFA’s report on Thursday, this residential compound, Sanmin, houses about 5,000 people. A local citizen journalist named Zhang told RFA that Sanmin was inaccessible from the outside.
“I went there to find out more about the situation, but it has been placed under quarantine. There are police outside on the street now guarding the place, and no vehicles are being allowed through,” Zhang said. “I asked a nearby resident how many people were taken away in ambulances, and he told me that 180 people were taken away for isolation.”
Residents of Sanmin who were outside of the compound at the time it was sealed have not been allowed to return to their homes.
Zhang told RFA that Wuhan authorities have started to close off other housing compounds as well, including the city’s Sanyanqiao residential compound.
“The barriers have been put back and the place is under lockdown. There is also an online announcement saying that delivery drivers aren’t being allowed to enter certain compounds,” Zhang said.
At least eight Wuhan city districts – including Dongxihu, Wuchang, Jiangxia, Jiang’an, and Hongshan – have suspended their courier services from May 12, according to RFA, indicating that these districts have also been locked down by authorities.
The new coronavirus cases were reported on Monday shortly after Wuhan announced that it planned to carry out city-wide coronavirus testing on all of its 11 million residents. A man who lives in Wuhan surnamed Sun told RFA on Thursday that Wuhan has informed all residents that they will be tested “district by district.”
“The city government is implementing the testing order from the epidemic prevention center, and each administrative region will notify the neighborhood committees in the residential compounds when they need to organize nucleic acid testing,” Sun said.
A resident of Wuhan’s Qiaokou district surnamed Ma confirmed to RFA that the Wuhan government was tracking down residents for mass coronavirus testing.
“Every district and neighborhood committee has to register [residents’] IDs for blanket nucleic acid testing,” Ma said. “This is just to show the international community that China really has got the epidemic under control like it said it had.”
“It is being carried out as a top priority political task,” added Sun.
On May 13, authorities in China’s northeastern Jilin province announced a lockdown of the capital, Jilin City, after the community documented several new coronavirus cases in recent days. Jilin City’s outbreak was directly linked to another coronavirus outbreak in the nearby city of Shulan which forced the city to lock down on May 10. There, authorities declared “wartime control mode” and raised the coronavirus risk level to the highest level. Local reports indicate that the number of coronavirus cases in Jilin province is much higher than what the government has reported so far.
The lockdowns in Jilin province, which borders North Korea, follow a surge in new Wuhan coronavirus cases across northeastern China in recent weeks, including in the neighboring province of Heilongjiang, which borders Russia.