Long queues as China’s capital launches mass virus tests



Beijing launched mass COVID-19 testing in some areas on Friday and Shanghai was testing all hospital staff as China battles its worst outbreak of the disease since March, with families fretting over Lunar New Year reunion plans amid new curbs.
Mainland China reported a slight decline in new daily COVID-19 cases on Friday – 103 from 144 infections a day earlier.
Of the new cases, 94 were local transmissions, Heilongjiang province in the northeast reported 47 new cases, while Shanghai reported six new cases and the capital, Beijing, reported three new cases.
Long queues formed in some districts in Beijing, where mass testing was launched following several consecutive days of new cases. City officials said there were some “leaks” in epidemic control in some rural areas, with inadequate adherance to rules on wearing masks, social distancing and temperature checks.
A queue more than 200 metres long built up outside Dengshikou Elementary School, a testing spot near the city centre. A man surnamed Lin said the supermarket he works at had told him to get a test.
“I’m not that worried though this round of the outbreak is a bit unexpected. I came as my work unit told me to,” he said.
Shanghai began testing all hospital staff for the disease on Thursday after two such workers tested positive.
Almost all of the local transmissions and asymptomatic cases in Harbin, the capital of Heilongjiang province, were linked to a meat processing plant owned by a joint venture between Thailand’s top agro-industrial conglomerate, CP Group, and a development zone. Tens of millions of people have been under some kind of lockdown in northern cities amid worries that undetected infections could spread quickly during the Lunar New Year holiday in mid-February.
Hundreds of millions of people usually travel during the holiday, as migrant workers return to their home provinces to see family. Officials expect large numbers of travellers, although many fewer than in normal years.—AP

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