China to test nine million Qingdao residents after 12 COVID-19 cases detected

Science & Health

A small COVID-19 cluster has emerged in Qingdao, China, breaking the country’s nearly two-month streak of no locally transmitted symptomatic cases. All nine million Qingdao residents will be screened for the virus this week in response.

chinese style covid testing with throat swab
Medical workers collect throat swabs from residents in Qingdao, China, to test for COVID-19 on October 12, 2020. cnsphoto via REUTERS

China largely suppressed the transmission of COVID-19 within its borders earlier this year, but authorities have had to play whack-a-mole with clusters of the virus as they reemerged.

Since that cluster in Urumqi receded in mid-August, China has not reported any locally transmitted symptomatic coronavirus cases — until this weekend.

A new cluster has emerged in Qingdao, Shandong Province, of 12 people — six symptomatic and six asymptomatic. “The new cases were all of current or former patients in Qingdao Chest Hospital, hospital staff, or their family members,” Reuters reports. “One asymptomatic case was a taxi driver whose wife worked at the hospital and was also infected.”

The response: 9 million COVID-19 tests in five days

“The coastal city is racing against time to carry out city-wide nucleic acid tests,” state media Global Times reports. “The target is to test about 6 million people from five districts by Tuesday, and roughly 9 million people will be tested in five days.”

“Authorities haven’t put Qingdao under lockdown yet, although the local government said it has implemented quarantine measures at the Qingdao Chest Hospital and residential communities where the newly discovered COVID-19 patients lived,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

The larger concern: More than 4.4 million people just visited Qingdao over the Golden Week holiday, per the Wall Street Journal. “Local governments as far away as Tongliao — a city in Inner Mongolia that is 850 miles from Qingdao by road — issued statements calling on residents to remain alert.”

  • “Health authorities across the country have issued advisories warning people against nonessential travel to Qingdao,” according to Sixth Tone, and “Shandong’s capital of Jinan has called for anyone who has visited Qingdao since September 23 to get tested for the coronavirus.”