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China's claim of 10.9 million negative test results in Qingdao 'impossible': Taiwan CECC head

Taiwan CECC says nearly 11 million negative tests for coronavirus in Qingdao a 'simply impossible result'

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Chen Shih-chung. 

Chen Shih-chung.  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan's Central Epidemic Command Center (CECC) chief on Saturday (Oct. 17) said that China's claim that all 10.89 million Wuhan coronavirus tests administered on Qingdao citizens came back negative is "impossible."

Following China's Golden Week holiday, which ran from Oct. 1 to Oct. 7, China proudly trumpeted that 600 million tourists had traveled across the country and that 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 Oct. 11 China announced 12 confirmed COVID-19 infections (six asymptomatic) at the Qingdao Chest Hospital, snapping its purported streak of 57 days without a single local infection.

As was the case in Xingjiang, Beijing, Yunnan, Wuhan, and Jilin since the original outbreak, China announced on Oct. 12 that it would require mass testing of all residents of Qingdao within less than a week. That same day, a video surfaced showing throngs of people pressed body-to-body as they lined up to take the mandatory test.

On Friday (Oct. 16), Chinese health officials claimed that after launching the massive test campaign, the results had allegedly all come back negative, strikingly similar to the results found after other local outbreaks since March. While attending the annual conference of the Society of Public Health at National Taiwan Normal University on Saturday (Oct. 17), Minister of Health and Welfare and CECC head Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said that China's claim that nearly 11 million coronavirus tests had all come back negative was "really great, but how is that possible?"

Chen said that "Everyone knows test kit test reagents have a certain number of false negatives and false positives." Commenting on the alleged outcome of the tests being universally negative, he said, "This is also a great thing, but it is simply an impossible result," reported CNA.

During a press conference on Friday, the Qingdao Chest Hospital claimed the source of the outbreak was dockworkers at the Port of Qingdao who tested positive for the coronavirus on Sept. 24 and were treated at the hospital. Health officials alleged that substandard PPE and disinfection measures in the CT scanning room while the men were being examined had led to the infection of two patients and their attending medical workers who went into the room the next morning, spreading the virus into the tuberculosis ward and leading to a cluster infection.

China's statistics on its confirmed coronavirus cases and deaths have resulted in 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.