China implemented a large-scale screening for COVID-19 for about 5 million citizens and applied lockdown initiatives in Kashgar City in the far western province of Xinjiang after a single asymptomatic coronavirus incident was identified on Saturday.
After China's first outbreak of coronavirus, contamination has been kept under control in March, and the incidence in Xinjiang is the second.
Approximately 2.8 million individuals were screened since Sunday afternoon. By Tuesday, the government wanted to complete the entire screening of all of the 4.7 million population of Kashgar.
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So far, 137 new cases have been detected by the screening drive - all of which turns out to be asymptomatic, according to Xinjiang's regional health commission.
This would be the highest recorded number of cases of asymptomatic COVID-19 identified in roughly seven months in China.
The area, host to 11 million Uyghurs, a Muslim majority-minority group, has been exposed in the past years to general security as well as religious repression.
The U.S. State Department reported that up to 2 million Uyghurs and some other minority groups might have been imprisoned in concentration camps.
Xinjiang has been confined to stringent lockdown initiatives following China's initial outbreak, on an equal level with those enforced in the city of Wuhan - the official hotbed of the virus, despite documenting just around 70 cases and three fatalities.
In July and August, a series of new reports took Xinjiang into a lengthy, tight lockdown of much more than 40 days in the provincial capital of Urumqi, earning outrage from locals on social media.
Numerous individuals argued that the limitations were far too severe and too broad in context - covering towns thousands of kilometers away from Urumqi without even any recorded cases.
The lockdown was eventually withdrawn at the end of August, just after two weeks of reporting no locally distributed incidents.
No need for citywide coronavirus screening
Earlier this month, almost one dozen locally distributed infections were screened by more than 10 million people in about four days throughout the eastern port city of Qingdao.
China's reaction to intermittent local outbreaks has been characterized by rapid and dramatic measures like mass testing, thorough contact tracing, or even stringent lockdown. However, it predominantly contained the coronavirus halfway through this year.
However, some public health officials, considering that patients are usually detected over time, have challenged the feasibility of citywide screening.
An infected individual may test negative but test positive days later - so not all unknown infections can be identified at once.
A virology teacher at the University of Hong Kong, Dr. Jin Dongyan, stated, "This is just a snapshot, so it definitely will miss a lot of positive individuals."
The need for such an intensive method was challenged even by the chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
"From the scientific perspective of the spread of the infectious disease, there is indeed no need to conduct citywide testing," Wu Zunyou stated at the news magazine on Saturday.