Beijing – ChinaWas broken. Six people who had symptoms and six others without any symptoms tested positive for the virus In one city, resulting in a dramatic response.
All of the cases are related to one hospital, Qingdao Chest Hospital, in Qingdao on the east coast of China. The city health commission posted the news on the Chinese social media site Weibo, and the hospital was closed, about 250 miles southeast of Beijing.
Qingdao is home to nearly 9 million people, more than New York City and twice the population of Los Angeles, and authorities are now testing every single one of them. They are determined to finish the process by the end of this week – an impressive feat, but one unexpected in China.
Photos and videos circulating on social and state-run media show citizens lining up for the test.
Officials in Wuhan, which has a slightly larger population, said all of its citizens were tested in just 10 days earlier this year when it handled the resurgence of the virus.
For many, news of new cases, even after nearly two months without any, may not come as a surprise. The entire country recently returned to work after an 8-day national holiday that saw millions of Chinese commute.
It was the first major holiday since the coronavirus pandemic was brought under control here. About 637 million trips were made during the National Day holiday. To put that in perspective, it’s almost the equivalent of every American making two trips in the same time frame.
People bought plane tickets, trains and crowded highways to relieve pent-up frustration after being stuck at home for most of this year.
In the grand scheme of things, the new cases in Qingdao are a small picture in the officially announced coronavirus numbers in China. The World Health Organization, which relies on data provided by the Chinese government, has recorded just over 91,000 cases of COVID-19 in China, and fewer than 5,000 deaths.
Critics say the numbers in China are very low – and potentially fair criticism in a country known to be covering bad news.