Beijing (AP) – Chinese authorities are testing millions of people, introducing closures and closing schools after several locally spreading cases of coronavirus were discovered in three cities across the country last week.
With the drop in temperature, extensive measures are being implemented in Tianjin, Shanghai and Manzhouli, despite the fact that the number of new cases remains low compared to the United States and other countries that have experienced new waves of infections.
Experts and government officials have warned that the cold is more likely to spread the virus. Recent outbreaks have shown that there is still a risk of the virus returning, despite being largely controlled in China.
On Monday, the National Health Commission reported two new cases handed over locally in Shanghai in the past 24 hours, an increase of seven since Friday. China has registered a total of 86,442 cases and 4,634 deaths since the virus was first detected late last year in China’s central city, Wuhan.
The two most recent cases, confirmed in Shanghai, were closely linked to an employee at another airport who was diagnosed with COVID-19 in early November. On Sunday night, the city’s Pudong International Airport decided to test its workers and collected 17,719 samples by early Monday morning. It is planned that others in the surrounding communities will be tested if additional cases are detected.
Videos allegedly from employees on social media showed that chaotic scenes appeared at the airport as they were ordered to test at the last minute. In the videos, we see people standing in large groups pushing back and forth against officials in hazmat suits.
Shanghai was more selective with mass testing, targeting people who are connected to a specific place, such as an airport or hospital, where someone took a positive test, rather than an entire district.
In Tianjin, health workers collected more than 2.2 million samples for testing from residents of the new district of Binhai after discovering five locally transmitted cases there last week.
In Manzhouli, a city of more than 200,000 residents, local residents are being tested by local health authorities after two cases were reported on Saturday. They closed all schools and public places and banned public gatherings such as banquets.
He resorted to China’s difficult top-down approach whenever new cases of local transmission were found – it closed schools and hospitals, closed residential communities and entire neighborhoods, and tested millions.
The Tianjin authorities closed a kindergarten and moved all teachers, family members and students to a central quarantine facility. The housing estate was also sealed, where the five cases were found.
China’s approach to curbing the epidemic has been criticized as being draconian. For more than two months, it closed the city of Wuhan, where cases were first reported to curb the virus, the local government shut down all traffic and locked residents in their homes. Domestically, however, he called China’s strategy “clear to zero” and boasted of its success.
“All over the world, only China can get to zero. There is no such capability in other countries, ”said Zeng Guang, head of epidemiology at the Chinese Center for Disease Prevention and Control, at a webinar organized by the Chinese media in September. “It’s not just zero, it’s hard for even them to control the first wave of the epidemic.”
“Zeroing is the most effective way to prevent an epidemic for the economy. If you don’t do that, this problem will become even more problematic, ”he said. “Use a heavier hand and stand at zero, then people will calm down.”
Chen Si, AP Shanghai researcher, contributed to this report.