All residents of a Chinese Million-Dollar City are tested after a minor outbreak of the coronavirus. That way, the rest of China can continue to function.
Twelve new infections are sufficient grounds for the Chinese authorities to test all over nine million inhabitants of the city of Qingdao for the coronavirus. There are long queues in front of the ad hoc test centres, the job has to be done this week.
The infections can all be traced back to the Qingdao Xiong ke hospital, where Covid-19 patients are taken in from abroad. A nurse in the corona Ward turned up infected. She, in turn, infected her husband, who is a taxi driver. There is a dead end: during the holiday week last week, he transported an unknown number of people.
That number might be high. With its sea breeze, boulevard and old German colonial center – where the famous Tsingtao beer is brewed-the city is a popular holiday destination. In the last two weeks, according to local authorities, 4.47 million tourists have visited Qingdao.
Passengers are kept separate and tested
China hasn’t had any local infections in months. After more than 85 thousand infections, the official number of deaths stands at 4,634. Travellers entering the country are kept separate from the population and tested several times. A handful of infections are detected every day in this group. The last time the virus was transmitted locally (not by travellers) was in Urumqi, the capital of the northwest Xinjiang region, on August 15.
The number of infected patients with no symptoms is not included in the list of all infections by the National Health Commission. The number of non-symptomatic infections increased from 23 to 32 new infections on Sunday, especially imported cases. Because people with no symptoms often see no reason to be tested, these figures are probably not complete.
Local authorities intervene immediately in cases of infection. The patient himself is isolated in a hospital. Close contacts are tested and may be required to be quarantined for 14 days. In this way, any infections with no symptoms are detected.
Nobody gets away
It’s not very subtle. At the beginning of this year, when the virus was raging in Wuhan, Beijing made it clear that drivers do not get away with half-work. No one wants a new hot spot on their conscience, so if local authorities find it necessary, they close off neighborhoods, factories and office buildings.
In Qingdao, the First Aid Department of the Xiong ke hospital is closed immediately. Residents of the buildings where the infected persons live may not go outside. A quarantine like this takes 14 days. Thanks to such heavy local measures, the rest of China continues to function as it did before the pandemic.
After the news of the 12 infections in Qingdao became known, other cities also took action. Jinan, the provincial capital from which most tourists came, requires anyone who has visited Qingdao since September 23 to undergo two tests plus one blood test. If there were antibodies in the blood, the person was infected before.
By Friday, the big job must be done. Earlier this year, the 11 million inhabitants of Wuhan were tested to make sure that the virus had disappeared from that city. To achieve this, the laboratories analysed several samples at once. If one of these guys tested positive, the testers zoomed in. It is unclear whether the mass testing in Qingdao is going to be the same way. Monday night, over a million people were tested-with negative results.