Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 31 October 2020

CORONAVIRUS

Coronavirus: UAE's Chinese residents tell of mammoth testing drive to contain Qingdao outbreak

Nine million people being tested for coronavirus in the port city in largest testing campaign since Wuhan

Chinese UAE residents have spoken of a mammoth coronavirus testing drive in their hometown of Qingdao.

At least nine million people are being tested over five days as authorities in the eastern Shandong province port city tackle an outbreak.

Some of the residents were on holiday there and have been tested, while others checked in on family and friends in China.

The drive started on Monday and it represents the largest testing campaign since China examined 11 million people in Wuhan, where coronavirus was first reported.

Everyone needs to do the tests, so people have been queueing up from 7am

Yong Le Song

“The government said everyone needs to do the tests, and so people have been queueing up from 7am,” Dubai resident Yong Le Song told The National.

“The most important thing is we must cut off the transmission route."

The 29-year old, his wife Sophie and his parents all tested negative after taking the throat swab tests on Monday, and Mr Yong, who worked with Emirates, will return to the UAE to train as a pilot next month.

"Only with thorough screening we can find those who are infected," said Mr Yong.

"There may be people who don’t have any symptoms, they don’t have fever or feel sick, but with testing we can prevent a great challenge so no one gets infected later.”

Qingdao is popular with tourists for China’s best-known brewery and its beaches.

Dubai resident Yong Le Song and his wife Sophie are on vacation in his hometown Qingdao, China. Song and his relatives were tested as part of a massive exercise being undertaken by Chinese authorities to test nine million people in five days to prevent a new outbreak of Covid-19. Courtesy: Yong Le Song
Dubai resident Yong Le Song and his wife Sophie are on vacation in his hometown Qingdao, China. Song and his relatives were tested as part of a massive exercise being undertaken by Chinese authorities to test nine million people in five days to prevent a new outbreak of Covid-19. Courtesy: Yong Le Song

Only a dozen Covid-19 cases, first detected in a chest hospital, were reported over the weekend. Of those, half were asymptomatic. But authorities are taking no chances as the country returned to work this week after eight days off for National Day celebrations. The new outbreak ended a clean streak of more than two months without local virus transmission in China.

People stood in huge queues at screening stations set up outside their apartment blocks as announcements went out over TV and social media asking people to come forward for the swab tests.

Chinese residents in the UAE, such as Abu Dhabi-based Fei Cong, are also checking in with family.

“They tests are being done so there is no panic after National Day because people were travelling everywhere,” said the 28-year-old postdoctoral student in marine biology with New York University Abu Dhabi.

“There were only a few cases but this will show people it is safe. There is no need to go to a hospital because there are hundreds of places to test near your home.

“Before the vaccine is out, we can only test, be careful and wear masks to stay safe.”

Authorities said no further infections had been identified after about three million tests were completed by Tuesday.

Officials said the city had a low risk of community-level spread from cases first detected at the Qindgao Chest Hospital. The hospital was shut down on Sunday.

Disease control experts in cities such as Beijing asked citizens to report if they had travelled to Qingdao since September 27 or if they were living with people from the city.

People have been advised to delay travel to Qingdao.

Miao Yu returned to Dubai from China in August after giving birth to a boy. Her mother travelled back with her to help. Her 58-year-old father, Yu, tested negative on Tuesday.

“My father is healthy and strong so when I spoke to him about the test, he wanted to know more about cases in the UAE. I told him we are keeping safe here.

“Testing is very necessary because Qingdao wants to tell everyone in China that it is safe. This is about safety.”

The virus is largely under control in China. Officials have said most new cases were brought by people travelling in from overseas.

According to the World Health Organisation, China has reported more than 91,000 infections and 4,746 deaths.

Updated: October 14, 2020 10:36 AM

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