Wuhan is reporting a small new cluster of COVID-19 cases, more than a month after lockdown restrictions were eased in the city that was the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. Wuhan now has at least six new COVID-19 cases, the first to be confirmed in Hubei province in at least 35 days.
“An 89-year-old Wuhan man tested positive for COVID-19 this week,” NPR’s Emily Feng reports from Beijing, adding that the man’s wife and several other people who lived in the same residential community also tested positive — although they had displayed no clinical symptoms of the disease.
“The rise of such hard-to-detect asymptomatic cases has alarmed public health authorities in China, who have ramped up contact tracing and testing efforts,” Feng says.
A local Communist Party official was swiftly fired over the new cases in Wuhan, with officials accusing Zhang Yuxin of “poor management over the closing-off and control of the Sanmin residential community,” according to the state-run People’s Daily.
Hubei province endured a two-month lockdown that eased in late March; the city of Wuhan emerged from many restrictions in early April. The latest sign of a return to normal came last week, when some high school students returned to class in Hubei.
But as social and business restrictions are being eased in China and other countries, health officials are wary of a second wave of infections, hospitalizations and deaths from COVID-19.
While China’s central government has allowed travel to resume between provinces as part of a return to life before the global pandemic, the country is still being confronted by new hot spots.
After more than a dozen new cases were reported over the weekend in the city of Shulan in the northeast province of Jilin, some 600,000 residents were effectively put under lockdown orders, according to media outlet Caixan.