Coronavirus: 18 million tests in three days as Guangzhou tries to stem spread in latest outbreak

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Guangzhou, China’s southern gateway, and nearby cities have a take-no-chances approach by carrying out blanket testing to stop the Covid outbreak spreading any further.

The metropolis city has been on high alert since late May after the first case of local infection for this year was discovered – a 75-year-old woman living in the urban Liwan district.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday, Chen Bin, a spokeswoman for the Guangzhou Health Commission, said the city had administered more than 18 million tests in the past three days. On Sunday, the tests uncovered four new cases, including one asymptomatic patient.

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“Nobody is a bystander in this war against the pandemic,” Chen said. “I urge anyone who has been to high and medium-risk areas, or has met infected patients and their close contacts to come forward … and get tested immediately,” Chen said.

Guangdong has a population of 120 million people and Guangzhou is home to 18 million but the mass testing was not limited to the populous city.

Neighbouring cities such as Foshan and Maoming also launched blanket testing to uncover Covid-19 cases, especially asymptomatic cases or silent carriers. Zhongshan city to the south of Guangzhou also sprang to action even though it has not reported any new infections.

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Zheng Xia, 57, who lives in the suburban Conghua district of Guangzhou, took the nucleic acid test with her family on Sunday.

“We are willing to do the testing, not only in cooperation with the government, but also for our own safety and health. Testing makes us feel more secure anyway and it is free and the queues are not long,” she said.

Guangdong province, including Shenzhen, has so far reported 126 Covid-19 local cases in the latest outbreak and most can be traced to a woman in Liwan district who was found to have been infected with the highly transmissible strain first detected in India, a variant now named Delta by the World Health Organization.

In addition to the local cases, the province has reported 13 imported cases, including 10 asymptomatic carriers.

While China largely has Covid-19 – which first broke out in Wuhan in central China in December 2019 – under control, it has imposed strict travel restrictions and quarantine requirements, wary that the tide may turn if the number of imported cases rise, especially with the number of variants growing around the world.

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The four new cases reported in Guangzhou on Sunday were all in Liwan district, the area most seriously hit by the virus since this round of outbreak started. To stop the spread, the strictest lockdown measures were implemented in some areas of Liwan District, where residents were told to stay home for quarantine, and gatherings were prohibited.

Meanwhile Nansha, a major port area of Guangzhou, has been classified as a medium risk area after a family cluster was confirmed.

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