The Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic, is gearing up to test its 11 million residents for the coronavirus after it recorded six new confirmed cases over the weekend, state media reports.

It is planning to execute a citywide nucleic acid test, which they are looking to complete within a 10-day period. Health authorities have ordered every district to submit their detailed testing plan by Tuesday as part of the project, according to Telegraph.

Wuhan had gone without new cases until April 3 and officially ended its nearly 3-month long lockdown on April 8. The city has recorded its first cluster of cases ever since the restrictions were eased on May 11. According to the publication, the urgent directive came the very next day of the resurgence of infections.

China’s health authority said Tuesday that relaxing the counter-epidemic measures was a distant possibility in view of the re-emergence of confirmed cases. Mi Feng, a spokesman for the National Health Commission, said that prevention and control efforts would still be in place to halt the virus from spreading further. People were mandated to continue wearing masks and maintain social distancing.

The six new cases are linked to two couples in their 70s and 80s and two women aged 46 and 29, all of whom live in the same residential complex. They were previously deemed asymptomatic, which means they didn’t manifest symptoms consistent with the disease, something which China doesn’t officially include in its tally of confirmed cases.

BBC cited a widely circulated internal report, wherein the test plan was referred to as “10-day battle,” under which older people and densely populated communities would be prioritized in terms of testing.

According to the Global Times, the city is yet to release any official information about the implementation of the plan.

Peng Zhiyong, director of the intensive care unit of the Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University, told the publication that he hasn’t received details of the testing plan, adding that it is likely to focus on groups and communities such as close contact of patients and their family members considering the fact that a blanket testing would be costly.

Except for the proposed campaign, China has further widened the containment measures by sealing off cities in its north-eastern Jilin province, which shares its border with North Korea. Jilin city, the second-largest city in the province, had its bus and rail services halted and residential complexes closed off Wednesday, speculating that the six people had contact with a possible new cluster in the adjacent city of Shulan. Authorities believe that some undetected spread has already occurred prior to ordering the renewed restrictions, Bloomberg reported.

A woman is tested for the COVID-19 coronavirus in Shanghai
A woman is tested for the COVID-19 coronavirus in Shanghai AFP / STR