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Coronavirus

China launches widespread survey to tackle asymptomatic virus cases

Testing comes as fears mount over 'silent' carriers triggering more infections

A woman receives a nucleic acid test for COVID-19 on a street near a hospital after the lockdown was lifted in Wuhan, China, on April 13.    © Reuters

BEIJING (Kyodo) -- China has launched an epidemiological survey in nine regions, including hardest-hit Hubei Province, to evaluate the full scale of asymptomatic infections and population immunity levels, the official China Daily newspaper reported Wednesday.

In Wuhan, Hubei's provincial capital and the original epicenter of the outbreak, 11,000 of its 11 million population will undergo both nucleic acid tests using throat swabs to detect asymptomatic infections and tests for antibodies in blood samples to determine if the person has developed immunity to COVID-19.

Already on Tuesday, 880 randomly selected Wuhan residents from different districts were tested. According to a representative of China's, residents in Beijing, Shanghai and Chongqing municipalities as well as Liaoning, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Guangdong and Sichuan provinces are also expected to undergo testing.

The central government has determined asymptomatic infections as the top national health risk in recent weeks amid mounting public fears that "silent" carriers may trigger further waves of infections as people return to work after lockdowns are relaxed.

Meanwhile, China on Wednesday reported 103 new coronavirus infections on the mainland, 46 of whom had displayed symptoms with the remainder showing no symptoms.

Imported cases accounted for 39 of the new infection cases, including 36 with symptoms.

The National Health Commission said that with the 46 newly reported symptomatic cases, overall confirmed cases on the mainland now stand at 82,295. With one new death from the disease recorded in Hubei on Tuesday, the death toll has reached 3,342.

So far, almost 95 percent of the country's total COVID-19 patients have recovered from the disease.

But amid rising numbers of local transmission cases as well as cases detected in Chinese who returned from neighbor Russia, the Chinese government has built a makeshift hospital and dispatched medical personnel to Heilongjiang, the northeastern province on the border with Russia.

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