After a night of heavy rain, red and blue plastic stools mushroomed along Wuhan's Dongting Road on Thursday to offer seats for residents as they lined up for novel coronavirus tests.
In front of the 200-meter line is a courtyard, where over a dozen makeshift tents had been set up. There, medical workers in protective suits were busy performing throat-swab nucleic acid tests and antibody blood tests for residents from Xudong Community.
A volunteer wearing a red armband played out a recorded announcement via a loudspeaker, reminding testees to present ID cards and maintain distance, while others helped residents disinfect their hands with alcohol spray.
The central Chinese city that has turned the tables on the aggressive virus announced a campaign on May 14 to expand nucleic acid testing 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 Wuhan continued to report asymptomatic infections, raising public concerns as Wuhan reopens its factories, businesses and schools.
According to Wuhan's municipal health commission, the city has performed nearly 3 million nucleic acid tests between May 14 and May 20. On Wednesday, the test number reached 887,321, more than 10 times the figure on May 14, when the campaign was announced.
Though the commission promised free-of-charge nucleic acid tests for those who had not been tested before, Xinhua reporters found the tests were sometimes offered in a more inclusive manner to also include antibody tests and repeat testees.
Fang Jiaqi, a nurse with Zhongnan Hospital of Wuhan University, walked out of the test site after her fifth nucleic acid test.
"It has been a month since my last test, and I think it would be good to do it again. So I applied to the community and was glad to be offered a place," said the 25-year-old.
"The expanded nucleic acid testing is great," said Fang. "It helps to screen out asymptomatic cases so that everyone can be reassured."
Fang told Xinhua she was not flustered by the crowds gathering for the tests.
"Everyone was wearing masks and keeping social distance. And I saw a man, whose mask did not cover his nose, was reminded by the volunteer to wear it properly," she said, adding that the testing tents were far from each other and from the line of waiting residents to reduce the risks of inhaling the aerosol of testees.
About 750 meters away from the test site is another one for those living in Dongting Community. In a square inside the neighborhood, 18 medical workers from Wuhan Third Hospital set up testing tables for both nucleic acid and antibody tests.
An elderly woman who only gave her surname as Zhong wore disposable gloves and headgear in addition to a mask. "I waited for half an hour. There were a lot of people, but I wasn't worried about cross-infection because everyone wore masks and kept their distance," said the 72-year-old.
"It is necessary for everyone to get tested. The free testing is the special care that the country provided to Wuhan citizens," said Zhong.
Wang Xueli, Party secretary of Dongting Community, said over 5,000 of the community's 7,500 residents have completed tests as of Thursday. So far, all results were negative.
"The sampling of our community is expected to be completed in two days, but we will wait two more days to allow those working on weekdays to take the tests on weekends," said Wang.