TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — On Monday (Oct. 12), when China announced that it would be testing 9 million people for the Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) in Qingdao, video surfaced showing throngs of people pressed body-to-body as they lined up to take a mandatory test for the virus.
Following China's Golden Week holiday, which ran from Oct. 1 to Oct. 7, the communist regime proudly trumpeted that 600 million tourists had traveled across the country and nearly 100 million tickets had been sold at the box office, all despite the fact that the coronavirus is only seeming to worsen in much of the rest of the world. However, on Sunday (Oct. 11) China announced 12 confirmed COVID-19 infections (six asymptomatic), snapping its alleged streak of 57 days without a single local infection going back to Aug. 15.
As was the case in Xingjiang, Beijing, Yunnan, Wuhan, and Jilin since the original outbreak, China announced on Monday (Oct. 12) that it would require Qingdao's entire population of 9 million residents to be tested within only five days.
As a result, massive lines have formed around testing centers running well into the night. Given the fact that social distancing is a key component of controlling the disease, many Chinese have questioned the logic of forcing large numbers of people to stand so closely together for such long periods of time, regardless of symptoms or contact history.
On Monday, the keywords "Qingdao epidemic" soon became the top trending topic on China's heavily censored and carefully orchestrated social media platform Weibo. Later that day, a user of the social media platform Reddit posted a video taken of a large crowd clustered together and jostling to take coronavirus tests, with the caption "Looks like the mass testing in Qingdao could be a super spreader event."
The poster, who wished to remain anonymous, told Taiwan News that it had been uploaded the previous day in a WeChat group based in Qingdao. In the 12-second clip, people can be seen tightly packed together, pushing and shoving, with some not properly wearing masks, raising doubts about the safety of such mass testing.
In neighboring Jiangsu Province, a Taiwanese man who had been living and working there since February began experiencing symptoms of the disease on Oct. 1, China's National Day, and tested positive for the virus upon his return to Taiwan on Oct. 13. At least two of his colleagues in Jiangsu reportedly experienced similar symptoms but have yet to seek medical attention.
China's statistics on its confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths have been placed under much doubt as they have been suspiciously low for such a populous country, currently in 49th place behind Portugal and ahead of Ethiopia. The speed with which China went from initially announcing human-to-human transmissions on Jan. 20 to declaring "zero" local infections on March 19 also raises many questions about the authenticity of China's reporting.
Prior to the latest outbreak in Qingdao, many experts questioned the wisdom of China's decision to unleash hundreds of millions of tourists during its Golden Week with the pandemic raging. The infection of the Taiwanese man on China's National Day could indicate many other infections are also taking place, including in areas not recently reported as having active outbreaks, such as Jiangsu Province.
Weibo top 1 trending topic in China right now: Qingdao epidemic. 3 asymptomatic cases were found in Qingdao, city of Shandong province in China. Mass testing is being launched. pic.twitter.com/9d1BWzG16U— Weibo Daily Trends in China (@weibo_trends) October 11, 2020
#Qingdao residents queue up to get mass testing. A woman told reporters she is not afraid bc she stored up 500 masks for her family— Rita Bai Yunyi (@RitaBai) October 12, 2020
The bad news is the outbreak in Qingdao is highly likely to be a nosocomial infection, bc all cases are linked to the Qingdao Chest Hospital. pic.twitter.com/FGX7kImfiU
Test de virus pour les habitants de la ville à Qingdao, Chine.— FranceVoh (@VohFrance) October 13, 2020