China is sending military and doctors to Shanghai to test 26 million residents for COVID

SHANGHAI, April 4 (Reuters) – China has sent the military and thousands of healthcare workers to Shanghai to help conduct COVID-19 tests for all of its 26 million residents as cases peaked in one of the most on Monday largest in the country continued to increase. general public health responses.

Some residents woke before dawn so healthcare workers in white suits could swab their throats as part of nucleic acid testing at their residences. Many lined up in their pajamas, standing the required two meters apart.

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) deployed more than 2,000 medical personnel from the army, navy and joint logistical support forces to Shanghai on Sunday, an armed forces newspaper reported.

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More than 10,000 healthcare workers from provinces such as Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Beijing have arrived in Shanghai, according to state media reports, which showed them arriving with suitcases and masks by bullet train and plane.

It is China’s largest public health response since fighting the initial COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus was first detected in late 2019. The State Council said the PLA dispatched more than 4,000 medical personnel to Hubei province, where Wuhan is located, at the time.

Shanghai, which began a two-stage lockdown on March 28 that has expanded to confine virtually all residents in their homes, reported 8,581 asymptomatic COVID-19 cases and 425 symptomatic COVID-19 cases as of April 3. It also urged residents to test themselves Sunday.

Although the outbreak is small by global standards, the city has emerged as a test for China’s elimination strategy, based on testing, tracing and quarantining all positive cases and their close contacts.

The exercise in China’s most populous city is taking place the night before Shanghai originally said it planned to lift the city’s lockdown.

The country has 12,400 facilities capable of processing tests of up to 900 million people a day, a senior Chinese health official said last month.

China mainly uses pool testing, a process that mixes up to 20 swab samples together for faster processing.

The city has also converted several hospitals, gyms, apartment blocks and other venues into central quarantine sites, including the Shanghai New International Expo Center, which can accommodate 15,000 patients at full capacity.

PUBLIC frustration

The surge in government support for Shanghai comes as the city suffers from the demands of the country’s “dynamic clearance” strategy, with residents complaining of overcrowded and unsanitary central quarantine centers and difficulties in obtaining food and basic medical assistance.

Some have begun to question the guidelines, asking why COVID-positive children are being separated from their parents and why mild or asymptomatic infections — most cases in Shanghai — cannot isolate at home. Continue reading

On Monday, Shanghai official Wu Qianyu told a news conference that children could be accompanied by their parents if the parents were also infected, but separated if not, adding that the guidelines were still being refined .

A Shanghai resident, who asked not to be named for privacy reasons, told Reuters he was taken to a central quarantine facility on Sunday night and reported a positive result of a self-test more than a week ago.

Another antigen test on Saturday showed he was no longer infected, but authorities insisted on sending him into quarantine, where he was taken to a one-bedroom apartment with two other patients, both of whom still tested positive.

“How is this isolation?” he said, adding that he is now afraid of reinfection. “I’m not in the mood to do anything right now, I can’t sleep.”

WORKERS UNDER STRESS

Pressure has also been on the city’s healthcare workers and Communist Party members as they work around the clock to navigate the city’s lockdown and deal with residents’ frustration.

Photos and videos of exhausted workers and volunteers sleeping on plastic chairs or on the lawn outside condominiums, or being verbally abused by local residents, have gone viral on Chinese social media.

On Saturday, the city’s Pudong Chinese Center for Disease Control said it was investigating a leaked recording of a call between a staff member and the relative of a patient confused by his father’s COVID test results.

The CDC worker, who has been identified by local media as an infectious disease expert, was heard angrily saying that she herself had raised concerns about the current quarantine and testing rules. Reuters could not independently verify the record.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged the country to contain the momentum of the outbreak as soon as possible while sticking to the policy of “dynamic clearance,” on Saturday Continue reading

On Saturday, Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, who was dispatched to Shanghai by the central government, urged the city to take “firm and swift steps” to contain the pandemic.

The eastern city of Suzhou said it had discovered a version of the Omicron BA.1.1 subvariant that doesn’t match any others in the domestic database or the international variant-tracking database GISAID, state TV reported.

The state-backed Science and Technology Daily said it’s unclear whether the virus is a new sub-branch of Omicron and that the emergence of one or two new versions is normal given the spread of Omicron in China, citing an unidentified expert with one Nationals Database.

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Reporting by Brenda Goh, David Kirton and the Shanghai Newsroom; Additional reporting by Roxanne Liu in Beijing; Edited by Stephen Coates and Gerry Doyle

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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