China's Guangdong steps up Covid-19 testing as infections mount

People queueing to receive nucleic acid tests for Covid-19 in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, on June 6, 2021.
People queueing to receive nucleic acid tests for Covid-19 in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, on June 6, 2021.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (REUTERS) - China's southern Guangdong province, spooked by a rise in Covid-19 infections since May, stepped up mass testing this week in a handful of cities, including those that have yet to report a single case.

While the numbers of confirmed infections and asymptomatic cases remain small compared with massive outbreaks seen in other countries such as India and Brazil, China is taking no chances.

Guangdong, China's manufacturing hub and biggest province by economic output, has reported more than 110 confirmed cases since May 21.

Its provincial capital Guangzhou has accounted for almost 90 per cent of the confirmed cases, spurring the city of over 18 million people to ramp up mass testing.

Since starting the mass testing on May 26, Guangzhou has taken nearly 28 million nucleic acid samples, with 40 people showing positive for the coronavirus, a spokesman for the city's health authority told reporters on Tuesday (June 8).

Many people have been tested multiple times.

A worker at Yantian port in Shenzhen, a city of more than 17 million people, tested positive after 11 previous tests from May 21 to June 1 came back negative. His village has since undergone five rounds of nucleic acid Covid-19 tests.

Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Foshan at different times have launched mass testing after reporting infections.

Zhongshan and Jiangmen - two cities in Guangdong that have yet to report any cases - also initiated mass testing earlier this week as a precautionary step.

Singapore, since the weekend, has barred short-term visitors who have been to Guangdong within the last 21 days.

China reported 33 new coronavirus cases on the mainland on June 7, up from 19 cases a day earlier, the health authority said on Tuesday.

Of the new cases, 19 were local transmissions from Guangdong, the National Health Commission said.

China also reported 16 new asymptomatic infections, compared with 21 a day earlier. China does not classify symptomless infections as confirmed cases.

As at Monday, China had a total of 91,300 confirmed infections. Its death toll stood unchanged at 4,636.