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China’s Qingdao orders 9 million COVID-19 tests following outbreak

Qingdao had largely returned to normal before the latest outbreak. Here locals celebrate at a beer festival in August.

Qingdao had largely returned to normal before the latest outbreak. Here locals celebrate at a beer festival in August.Credit:Michael Smith

Daily COVID-19 infections in mainland 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 No. 2 economy.

Qingdao has already locked down Qingdao Chest Hospital as well as the emergency department of its central hospital. Buildings where the infected individuals live have also been locked down.

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in mainland China was at 85,578 on Monday, while the death toll remained unchanged at 4634.

The cluster has now become China’s biggest in months, reflecting the difficulty of stamping out the coronavirus in any one country when outbreaks are still spreading rapidly in places like India and the US while rebounding in Europe. Several nations in the Asia-Pacific region like Thailand and New Zealand have also maintained long stretches of virus-free periods, only to see the pathogen rear its head again.

The sources of these resurgences remain largely a mystery, as asymptomatic carriers prevent health experts from being able to map a chain of transmission. Last month, Qingdao also found two port workers — responsible for unloading frozen seafood — who tested positive in routine checks without showing symptoms.

China has suspended frozen food imports from plants in several countries after detecting the virus on the packaging or surface of imported meat and seafood.

Authorities in Qingdao are now sticking to the same playbook China has used in curbing resurgences after it contained the initial deadly outbreak in Wuhan. Amid mass testing and contact-tracing, all who test positive are isolated and quarantined, regardless of symptoms.

Reuters, Bloomberg

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