Beijing reports 13 new COVID-19 cases, raises testing

Beijing on Tuesday reported 13 new domestically-transmitted COVID-19 cases, as the Chinese capital has continued to increase its coronavirus testing capacity to one million samples a day following a fresh outbreak in the city’s wholesale food market.

According to Beijing’s municipal health commission, the city has reported 249 confirmed domestically-transmitted cases related to the Xinfadi market outbreak, all of whom were receiving treatment in hospitals, reports Xinhua news agency.

Meanwhile, there were 22 asymptomatic cases still under medical observation, and one imported case hospitalized in Beijing, the Commission added.

Meanwhile, testing provision has doubled in recent days as health personnel and mobile laboratories, which can analyze up to 230,000 samples daily, have been sent to the city from other provinces, Efe news reported.

The analytical capacity of the laboratories is still considerably less than the daily samples collected, currently around 500,000.

Joint group tests incorporate five samples in a single analysis and allow Beijing to screen up to one million specimens in a day.

If one of the samples of a group tests positive then each one is individually analyzed to locate the infection.

The number of testing centres has gone from 98 to 124 in recent days and around 2.3 million people have been tested, amounting to 10 per cent of the city’s 22 million population.

Municipal health authorities were due to carry out tests on more than 100,000 delivery and taxi drivers.

Nucleic acid tests were also being conducted on all workers in the city’s restaurants, markets, grocery stores and universities.

Municipal authorities have said the testing campaign could continue for up to 10 days until the transmission of the outbreak has been completely eliminated.

Group testing was used in Wuhan, the city where the pandemic originated last December.

As of Tuesday, China reported a total of 84,624 COVID-19 cases, with 4,639 deaths.