As the latest COVID-19 outbreak in Dalian has continued to spread, the city in Liaoning province is further strengthening public health efforts to contain the novel coronavirus, including by a program of universal testing among its nearly 7 million residents.
Dalian authorities have responded quickly and taken precise measures to counter the latest coronavirus infections, laying a solid foundation for winning the fight against COVID-19, said Ma Xiaowei, minister of the National Health Commission, who arrived in Dalian on Friday night.
But the minister also said uncertainties remain in Dalian's latest COVID-19 outbreak and that intensified prevention and control efforts are needed as the epidemic is still at an early stage and a critical moment.
Greater efforts must be made to quickly expand nucleic acid testing for the virus in Dalian, including by making use of testing resources in nearby cities, so that all city residents can be tested within four days, if possible, said Ma, who attended a meeting on epidemic control in Dalian on Sunday afternoon.
Strict epidemic prevention and control measures should apply to more groups, including putting the close contacts of confirmed patients' close contacts under isolation, with each one in a separate room at designated isolation sites, he said.
Meanwhile, more precise and effective epidemic control and prevention measures should be applied in residential compounds. Residents in medium-or high-risk areas should not leave the city, Ma said.
On Saturday, Dalian reported 12 new cases, raising the total to 24 since the outbreak began on Wednesday, according to city health authorities.
Tieling, another city in Liaoning, reported one new confirmed case on Saturday: a 55-year-old woman who works at Dalian Kaiyang World Seafood Co, where the first confirmed case of this outbreak was reported on Wednesday. She left Dalian and arrived in Tieling on Tuesday, the Tieling health authority said on Sunday morning.
At least eight other cities and counties in northeast China－such as Changchun, Jilin province, and Hegang, Heilongjiang province－had reported asymptomatic infections transmitted from Dalian as of Sunday afternoon, according to provincial health authorities.
To further contain the spread of infections, Dalian has arranged for free nucleic acid tests for all residents, the city government said.
Many Dalian residents showed support for the city's comprehensive nucleic acid testing campaign.
"My neighbors all support the thorough testing. After it, we can rest assured," said Wang Jie, a resident of Dalian's Xigang district, as she waited in line for a throat swab near her home on Sunday afternoon.
In addition to the care taken to stop the virus' spread in Dalian, Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, has tightened its anti-virus measures and announced it would conduct a second round of nucleic acid testing in its main districts to screen out infected residents, Zhang Wei, director of Urumqi's health commission, said on Sunday.
The city began free, citywide nucleic acid testing on July 18 after a rebound in COVID-19 cases since July 15, and it has now almost finished them, he said.
As of Saturday, Urumqi reported 22 locally transmitted COVID-19 infections and 38 asymptomatic cases, bringing the figure of confirmed cases to 135 and asymptomatic cases to 147 since the outbreak.