Coronavirus: Guangzhou puts power of city and science resources behind massive testing programme

·3-min read

Guangzhou in southern China has turned to its top laboratories and biological companies to spearhead the world’s most extensive city-run testing programme to arrest a stealthy but simmering spread of coronavirus in the metropolis.

The city, which is home to 18 million people, reported four new Covid-19 cases on Thursday – more than two weeks after an infected patient was found in its urban Liwan district. So far, 119 cases have been identified, including seven asymptomatic carriers.

Sun Xiang, deputy head of Guangzhou Science Technology Bureau, said on Wednesday that coronavirus transmission in the Guangzhou outbreak was rapid because of the presence of the Delta strain.

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The city has turned to major companies such as KingMed Diagnostics and Da An Gene Co for massive and repeated testing, hoping to uncover all Covid-19 patients as fast as possible to prevent the virus from spreading.

A testing programme in Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam last month covered all 13 million residents, making it the largest city-run testing scheme outside China. In Guangzhou between May 26 and June 7, some 28 million tests were administered – far outstripping the Ho Chi Minh City programme.

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Sun said KingMed Diagnostics alone could run 350,000 tests a day and each test was capable of including as many as 10 individual samples. Guangzhou has up to 23 qualified Covid-19 testing companies and institutes making up the city’s front line of defence against the coronavirus.

In addition, Guangzhou has converted the Guangzhou Stadium into a huge temporary testing centre which can process 1.5 million tests a day.

All cases identified in the latest Guangzhou outbreak can be traced to a 75-year-old woman in Liwan district. The woman, who does not have a travel history outside Guangzhou, was found to have been infected by the highly transmissible strain first detected in India, now named Delta by the World Health Organization. She was discharged from hospital on Thursday.

“We are at a critical juncture in our fight against the virus, and our prevention and control work requires the support and active cooperation of everyone. [I urge] you to follow the relevant requirements and guidelines and be patient,” Chen Bin, a spokeswoman for the Guangzhou Health Commission, said on Thursday.

Coronavirus, which first broke out in Wuhan of central China in December 2019, has since spread around the world infecting more than 174 million people. While China now largely has the coronavirus under control, it has kicked off a mass vaccination drive across the country to improve people’s immunity and curb infection. More than 808 million doses were administered by Tuesday.

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