Millions in Tianjin, Shanghai and Manzhouli tested for virus, gatherings banned

China | 23 Nov 2020 4:18 pm

Chinese authorities are testing millions of people, imposing lockdowns and shutting down schools after multiple locally transmitted coronavirus cases were discovered in three cities across the country last week.

As temperatures drop, large-scale measures are being taken in the cities of Tianjin, Shanghai and Manzhouli.

On Monday, the National Health Commission reported two new local infections in Shanghai over the last 24 hours, bringing the total to seven since Friday.

The two latest patients confirmed in Shanghai were close contacts of another airport worker who was diagnosed with the coronaviru earlier in November. On Sunday night, the city’s Pudong International airport decided to test its workers, collecting 17,719 samples through the early hours of Monday morning. Plans call for testing others in surrounding communities if further patients are detected.

Videos on social media purportedly from workers showed what appeared to be chaotic scenes at the airport as they were given last-minute orders to get tested. In the videos, people are seen standing in large groups pushing back and forth against officials in hazmat suits.

Shanghai has been more selective with mass testing, targeting people associated with a particular place, such as the airport or the hospital where a confirmed individual had worked, rather than an entire district.

In Tianjin, health workers have collected more than 2.2 million samples for testing from residents in the Binhai new district, after five locally infected people were found there last week.

In Manzhouli, a city of more than 200,000 people, local health authorities are testing all residents after two were reported on Saturday. They also shut down all schools and public venues and banned public gatherings such as banquets.

China has resorted to its heavy, top-down approach each time new local transmissions of the virus are found — shutting down schools and hospitals, locking down residential communities and entire neighborhoods, and testing millions.

Tianjin authorities shut down a kindergarten and moved all the teachers, family and students to a centralized quarantine space. They also sealed the residential compound where the five cases were found.

China’s approach to controlling the pandemic has been criticized for being draconian. It locked down the city of Wuhan, where coronavirus infections were first reported in December last year, for more than two months to contain the virus, with the local government shutting down all traffic and confining residents to their homes. Domestically, however, China has called its strategy “clear to zero” and has boasted of its success.

“In the entire world, only China has the ability to get to zero. Other countries don’t have this ability,” Zeng Guang, the chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said in a webinar hosted by Chinese media in September. “It’s not just getting to zero, even for them to control the first wave of the epidemic is hard.”

“‘Clearing to zero’ is actually the most economically effective way to do epidemic prevention. If you don’t do that, then this problem will get more troublesome,” he said. “Use a heavier hand, and get to zero, then people will feel reassured.”-AP. Photo: Xinhua 

 

 

 



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