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China Qingdao city says it tested 3m people for COVID-19 in 2 days

  • The Chinese city of Qingdao says it has tested 3 million people for COVID-19 in just 48 hours.
  • After finding 12 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, health authorities pledged to test all 9 million residents within a week.
  • Qingdao’s reaction shows how seriously China still takes the virus, and the scale of the drive is unheard of in the US and Europe. 
  • Authorities in many US cities and European countries have struggled to roll out comprehensive testing schemes.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

A Chinese city says it has tested 3 million people for COVID-19 in just 48 hours, the latest example of just how far the US and much of Europe lag behind in terms of testing capability. 

On Sunday, the eastern city of Qingdao announced it would test all 9 million residents after identifying 12 cases of coronavirus linked to a local hospital. Officials said everyone would be tested within five days.

In a Tuesday update, the Municipal Health Commission of Qingdao said none of the 1.1 million tests that had returned so far were positive, according to the Associated Press.

However, China’s National Health Commission said Tuesday that there were six new cases of the virus in Qingdao recorded in the past 24 hours, according to the AP. The reason for the discrepancy is not clear so far.

China effectively rid itself of the coronavirus in August, having recorded its first day without a new locally transmitted case on May 23. 

The news from Qingdao after a dozen new cases shows just how seriously the country is still taking the virus.

Testing 3 million people in 48 hours is a feat that would be unheard of in cities across Europe and North America.

xi jinping china poster

A woman with a protective face mask walks past a portrait of Chinese President Xi Jinping in Shanghai, China, on March 12, 2020.

Aly Song/Reuters


Many authorities in US cities, who struggled to roll out comprehensive testing programs during the worst weeks of the outbreak in July, are still failing to do so in the face of another surge in cases this autumn and winter.

“One of the biggest obstacles to containment has been the fact that we don’t have a testing strategy and people don’t know their status,” Dr. Amesh Adalja, a senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins University Center for Health Security, told Business Insider in August.

“When you look at countries that have been able to contain [the virus], they didn’t do anything out of the ordinary. They tested, traced, and isolated.”

Dr. Carolyn Cannuscio, a social epidemiologist who leads the contact-tracing program at the University of Pennsylvania, also told Business Insider: “We have a broken testing system, and that sets us up for failure in contact tracing because people are waiting so long to get their test results that we have missed a critical period for counseling those people to stay home and avoid infecting others.”

At one point in May the US was testing more people than

China’s Qingdao orders city-wide testing after new COVID-19 infections

SHANGHAI/BEIJING (Reuters) – The Chinese city of Qingdao said on Monday it will test its entire population of more than 9 million people for coronavirus, after discovering 12 new infections that appeared to be linked to a hospital treating imported infections.

Daily COVID-19 infections in mainland China have fallen drastically since early in the outbreak, which first emerged in the city of Wuhan. China had reported no new domestically transmitted cases since early August, but has remained on high alert.

Qingdao reported a total of six new COVID-19 cases and six asymptomatic infections on Sunday, all linked to the Qingdao Chest Hospital, where infected travellers arriving from overseas have been treated in an isolated area.

The specific source of infection was still under investigation, the city government said on Sunday.

The testing would cover the city in five days, the city said.

The new cases were all of current or former patients in Qingdao Chest Hospital, hospital staff, or their family members. One asymptomatic case was a taxi driver whose wife worked at the hospital and was also infected.

Qingdao said it has locked down the Qingdao Chest Hospital as well as the emergency department of its central hospital, which the taxi driver visited. Buildings housing infected individuals have also been locked down as part of the city’s virus containment measures.

The new infections emerged shortly after China completed its Golden Week holiday, during which millions of people travelled domestically.

Disease control authorities in several cities including Beijing advised residents to avoid unnecessary trips to Qingdao. An investment and trade expo in Qingdao organised by the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation and scheduled for the weekend of Oct. 16-18 was postponed, state TV reported.

Qingdao’s mass testing campaign is not China’s first. Wuhan tested its entire population, and mass schemes involving several million samples have also been conducted in Beijing and Urumqi.

The National Health Commission’s daily tally reported 21 confirmed COVID-19 cases, but none in Qingdao were included. The number of new nationwide asymptomatic cases, which China counts separately from 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 were imported.

Total confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China now stand at 85,578. The death toll remains at 4,634.

(Reporting by Winni Zhou, Jing Wang and Engen Tham in Shanghai and Roxanne Liu in Beijing; Writing by Se Young Lee; Editing by Christian Schmollinger, Michael Perry and Tom Hogue)

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Coronavirus back in China: Entire city of Qingdao being tested after just 12 COVID-19 cases found

Beijing — China’s 56-day coronavirus clean streak has been broken. Six people with symptoms and another six without any have tested positive for the virus that causes COVID-19 in one city, prompting a dramatic response.

All of the cases are linked to a single hospital, the Qingdao Chest Hospital, in the city of Qingdao on China’s eastern coast. The city’s health commission posted the news to Chinese social media site Weibo, and the hospital, about 250 miles southeast of Beijing, has been closed.

Qingdao is home to about 9 million people, more than New York City and twice as many as Los Angeles, and authorities are now in the process of testing every single one of them. They’re determined to finish that process by the end of this week — a remarkable feat, but not unexpected in China. 

Medical workers in protective suits collect swabs for nucleic acid tests in Qingdao
Medical workers in protective suits collect swabs for nucleic acid tests during city-wide testing following new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in Qingdao, Shandong province, China, October 12, 2020.

cnsphoto/STRINGER/REUTERS


Photos and video making the rounds on both social and state-run media show citizens lining up to be tested.

Officials in Wuhan, which has a slightly larger population, said all of its citizens were tested in just 10 days earlier this year, when it tackled a resurgence of the virus.

For many, the news of new cases, even after almost two months without any, may come as little surprise. The entire country recently came back to work after an 8-day national holiday that saw millions of Chinese on the move.

It was the first major holiday since the coronavirus pandemic was brought under control here. Some 637 million trips were made over the National Day break. To put that in perspective, it’s almost equivalent to every single American doing two trips in the same time frame.


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People bought out plane and train tickets and jammed highways to release pent-up frustration after being stuck at home for most of this year.

In the grand scheme of things the new cases in Qingdao are a small blip in China’s officially reported coronavirus numbers. The World Health Organization, which relies on data provided by the Chinese government, has recorded just over 91,000 COVID-19 infections in China, and fewer than 5,000 deaths.

Critics say China’s reported numbers are too low — likely a fair criticism in a country known to cover up bad news.

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Qingdao to test nine million for coronavirus in five days

The Chinese city of Qingdao is testing its entire population of nine million people for Covid-19 over a period of five days.

The mass testing comes after a dozen cases were found linked back to a hospital treating coronavirus patients arriving from overseas.

In May, China tested the entire city of Wuhan – home to 11 million people and the epicentre of the global pandemic.

The country has largely brought the virus under control.

That’s in stark contrast to other parts of the world where there are still high case numbers and lockdown restrictions of varying severity.

In a statement posted to Chinese social media site Weibo, Qingdao’s Municipal’s Health Commission said six new cases and six asymptomatic cases had been discovered.

All the cases were linked to the same hospital, said the Global Times.

The Chinese authorities now have a strategy of mass testing even when a new coronavirus cluster appears to be relatively minor, correspondents said.

City-wide testing

The commission added that a citywide testing program had been launched, with five districts to be tested within three days – with the whole city to be tested within five days.

Some 114,862 people – including medical staff and newly hospitalised patients in the city’s hospitals – have already tested negative for the coronavirus, it said.

Videos circulating online showed local residents lining up late on Sunday to get tested, said the Global Times, adding that some of these test points were open from 07:00 to 23:00.

The new cases come a week after China’s Golden Week holiday – which saw millions travel across the country.

A Global Times report quoting the Qingdao Municipal Bureau of Culture and Tourism said the city received 4.47 million passenger trips over this period.

The nearby city of Jinan, which is also in the same province as Qingdao, called for anyone who has visited the city since 23 September to get tested for the virus, according to a report by The Paper.

Earlier last month, Qingdao announced that two port workers in the city who handled imported seafood tested positive for the virus. However, they were not known to have infected anyone else.

Daily coronavirus infections have fallen drastically in China, and for the most part the country appears to have recovered from the worst of the virus.

China currently has 85,578 virus cases and the death toll stands at 4,634.

Earlier this year, China completed a mass testing programme in Wuhan saying 11 million people had been tested in 10 days.

However, the BBC’s Reality Check later estimated that the figure was closer to 9 million over 10 days – still a significant number of people.

Hundreds of testing centres were opened, with thousands of testing staff involved.

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