Almost 10 million people in the Chinese city of Qingdao have now been screened for the coronavirus, officials said Thursday, as authorities rushed to quash an outbreak through an ambitious program of mass testing.
Deputy mayor Luan Xin said more than 9.9 million samples had been collected and 7.6 million results returned, adding that no new cases had been found.
The city has now confirmed 13 cases, Luan told a regular briefing Thursday, adding that health workers were on track to complete testing 9.4 million residents and another 1.5 million visitors by Friday – just five days after the program was launched.
The mass testing follows the discovery of a dozen cases linked to the Qingdao Municipal Chest Hospital, which was treating coronavirus patients arriving from abroad.
Fifth leading cause of death in EU
The World Health Organization’s European office said Thursday that the soaring number of COVID-19 cases in Europe has caused “great concern” but said the situation was still better than the peaks in April.
“The evolving epidemiological situation in Europe raises great concern. Daily numbers of cases are up, hospital admissions are up,” the WHO’s Regional Director for Europe Hans Kluge told a press conference.
“COVID is now the fifth leading cause of deaths and the bar of a 1,000 deaths per day has now been reached.”
Hong Kong and Singapore on Thursday said they had agreed “in principle” to set up a bubble allowing residents to travel freely between the two financial hubs as long as they test negative for the coronavirus.
The two cities released joint statements announcing the deal, which they said would be implemented within weeks.
“This milestone arrangement will help revive cross-border air travel between the two aviation hubs, in a safe and progressive way,” Hong Kong’s government said.
“Both our cities have low incidence of COVID-19 cases and have put in place robust mechanisms to manage and control COVID-19,” Singapore transport minister Ong Ye Kung said, referring to the disease caused by the coronavirus.