China's Qingdao to complete COVID-19 testing of 11m after local cases emerge

As of 8am on Thursday, more than 9.94 million people had been sampled, while over 7.64 million of the collected samples had been tested. 

Qingdao, a coastal city in east China's Shandong Province, has vowed to complete a citywide nucleic acid testing campaign covering all 11 million residents within five days starting from Monday, after a new cluster of local COVID-19 infections emerged.

As of 8am on Thursday, more than 9.94 million people had been sampled, while over 7.64 million of the collected samples had been tested. Except for the cases already reported, no new positive samples have been detected.

The virus, which recently re-emerged, has led to the discovery of 13 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 by Wednesday. Most of the new cases are linked to the Qingdao Chest Hospital, which had been used to treat imported COVID-19 cases.

Sui Zhenhua, director of the Qingdao municipal health commission, was suspended following the resurgence of the virus, according to a decision made by the Qingdao municipal committee of the Communist Party of China on Wednesday.

Help from neighboring cities

Starting from 7am Monday, the residents of a community in the city's Shinan District began to line up at a testing point to receive nucleic acid testing.

"We wait about 20 minutes before getting the testing. It's a responsible move for the good of ourselves and for others, too, " said a local resident surnamed Wang.

Du Xiaoxuan, a nurse dispatched from Zibo city, about 270 km away from Qingdao, arrived in Qingdao at noon on Tuesday and collected more than 200 samples with two colleagues on their day of arrival.

"China has controlled the epidemic well. This is a hard-won achievement that we must safeguard," said Du.

Five cities in Shandong, including Zibo, Yantai and Rizhao, have joined hands with Qingdao to help conduct nucleic acid sampling and testing, and more than 1,200 people have been dispatched to the city to assist in testing, said Chen Wansheng, an official with the municipal government of Qingdao.

Most samples from five urban districts of Qingdao are transported to the five neighboring cities for testing, as Qingdao has limited equipment and the samples must be tested within 12 hours, Zhao Guolei, deputy director of the municipal health commission, told Xinhua.

New technology boosts efficiency

A 10-in-1 mixed testing approach has been adopted to improve efficiency, according to Zhang Huaqiang with the municipal center for disease prevention and control.

"If a 10-in-1 sample is positive, we will inform the 10 people to undergo separate isolation and testings to further identify the carrier of the positive sample," said Zhang.

Chinese biotech company BGI Group upgraded its COVID-19 nucleic acid test laboratory named Huoyan, or Fire Eye, in Qingdao on Wednesday. The group installed another 88 extracting and testing instruments in the laboratory, bringing the maximum daily testing capability from 2,000 to 40,000 samples.

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