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China's Qingdao orders city-wide COVID-19 testing following new infections

China's Qingdao orders city-wide COVID-19 testing following new infections

A foreman wearing a face mask works as a cargo ship docks at a container terminal of Qingdao port in Shandong province, China on Feb 4, 2020. (Photo: Reuters)

BEIJING: China's Qingdao city said on Monday (Oct 12) it will conduct COVID-19 tests for the entire population of more than 9 million people over five days, after new cases appeared linked to a hospital treating imported infections.

The city reported six new COVID-19 cases and six asymptomatic cases as of late Oct 11. Most of the cases were linked to the Qingdao Chest Hospital.

Five districts will be tested "within three days" and the whole city "within five days", the statement said. However, officials did not give a precise figure on how many people would be tested.

Qingdao, a major seaport in China's eastern Shandong province, has already locked down Qingdao Chest Hospital as well as the emergency department of its central hospital. Buildings that the infected individuals live in have also been locked down as part of the virus containment measures.

China has extensive, quick test capabilities and the health commission said more than 140,000 employees of "medical institutions, newly admitted patients and personnel" have already been tested in Qingdao since the cases were confirmed.

The National Health Commission's (NHC) tally of 21 confirmed COVID-19 cases in China for Oct 11 was published after Qingdao's announcement, but did not include any confirmed infections in the city and it was not immediately clear why.

The number of new asymptomatic cases, which China does not count as confirmed cases, rose to 32 from 23 a day earlier, the NHC said.

It did not offer a breakdown on where the new asymptomatic cases were reported, although it said 29 of them were imported infections.

READ: China in talks with WHO over assessing its COVID-19 vaccines for global use

Daily COVID-19 infections in China have fallen drastically from peaks early this year, but the country remains on high alert in order to prevent painful lockdowns that led to an outright contraction of the world's second-largest economy.

Hundreds of millions travelled across China for the Golden Week holiday last week as the country edges back to growth, while rapid tests and swift lockdowns have tamped down secondary waves of the virus.

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in China now stands at 85,578, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4,634.

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Source: AGENCIES/kv/ga

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