China scrambles to test entire city of nine million for coronavirus following spate of new cases

With a handful of new cases detected in Qingdao, Chinese officials intend to test the entire city - around 9.4 million people - by Thursday.

China health authorities found over 100 asymptomatic cases of the coronavirus.

China health authorities found over 100 asymptomatic cases of the coronavirus. Source: Barcroft Media

China rushed Tuesday to test an entire city of nine million people within days after a minor coronavirus outbreak in the sprawling country, a far cry from the struggle in Europe to tackle surging infections with tough new steps including partial lockdowns.

The virus is still spreading rapidly worldwide, with over one million deaths and 37 million infections, and many nations that suppressed their first outbreaks now face a second wave.

Without a vaccine, governments are wary of allowing the virus to spread unchecked.

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China - where COVID-19 first emerged late last year - launched a drive to test all residents of Qingdao after a handful of cases were detected on Sunday.

More than four million samples had been collected and 1.9 million results returned as of Tuesday afternoon, Qingdao authorities said, adding that no new cases had been found beyond already confirmed infections.

Chinese officials intend to test the entire city - around 9.4 million people - by Thursday.

In scenes contrasting with the fumbled testing efforts elsewhere, health workers in protective clothing swiftly set up tents and residents queued deep into Monday night to provide samples.

Medical staff gave a throat swab nucleic acid test to a resident in Qingdao.
Medical staff gave a throat swab nucleic acid test to a resident in Qingdao. Source: Barcroft Media


Meanwhile in Europe, governments are battling to curb surges with new controls and increased testing, while trying to avoid the devastating nationwide lockdowns of March and April.

The United Kingdom has seen its highest fatality increase in four months, with 143 deaths recorded in one day.

The last time fatalities reached came this high was on June 3, when 155 people died.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson, whose country has the highest death toll in Europe, on Monday had already ordered pubs in Liverpool to shut as part of a new strategy.

He said businesses forced to close would get support from the government, but his focus on shutting hospitality venues sparked anger, as have similar measures elsewhere.

Opposition Labour leader Keir Starmer called Tuesday for a 2-3 week "circuit break" lockdown to slow infection rates, saying the government had "lost control" of the outbreak having ignored stringent measures suggested by scientific experts on September 21.

Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte announced the Netherlands will go into "partial lockdown" from 2000 GMT on Wednesday, with all bars, cafés and restaurants to close for two weeks at least.

French President Emmanuel Macron is expected to announce tighter restrictions and faster testing in a prime-time TV interview Wednesday night, with some media speculating Paris and other cities could face evening curfews.

Hospitals in Paris will have most of their intensive care beds packed with Covid-19 patients as soon as next week, the system's chief warned Tuesday.

"It's inevitable," Martin Hirsch, the head of the 39 hospitals in Paris and its suburbs, told the Parisien newspaper, estimating beds would reach 70-90% capacity by October 24.



Russia on Tuesday reported its highest-ever number of daily virus deaths, at 244, and a record number of new cases at almost 14,000.

Italy imposed new, tougher rules to control a resurgence, including an end to parties, amateur football matches and snacking at bars at night.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki on Tuesday became the latest high-profile figure to go into quarantine after coming into contact with a person with COVID-19.

And Portugal's football federation said star striker Cristiano Ronaldo had tested positive for the virus.


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4 min read
Published 14 October 2020 at 6:58am
Source: AFP, SBS