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Global Times

NE China's Shenyang improves testing program after complaints, conflicts

Global Times

By Chen Shasha and Fan Anqi Published: Jan 05, 2021 10:08 PM

Shenyang in Northeast China's Liaoning Province has seen two cases where residents and epidemic control staff had conflicts when the city's 8.3 million people rolled out massive testing in the bleak weather.

The city has increased testing efficiency and improved its plan after the two incidents, and the process has become more smooth, the Global Times learned from local residents.

After being asked to wait until 10 people had gathered to join a group test, a couple cursed epidemic control staff at a testing site on Monday, and later beat an auxiliary police officer who tried to prevent them from doing so, said local police.

The couple were later detained on suspicion of disrupting officials performing their duties, police said.

Prior to that, a father and a son in the city who tried to jump the queue for nucleic acid testing on Friday, sparked complaints from other residents. The duo then beat a police officer who tried to solve the conflict and they were also detained.

The two incidents reflect problems in carrying out the massive testing, prompting the city to improve its administrative capabilities and residents to show understanding amid a public health risk.

The Global Times learned from local residents that despite some complaints and chaos at the very beginning of the process, testing is being carried out in an orderly manner.

"In some communities, it took 15 minutes or even less, but in some other places, people had to wait about 50 minutes in the first round of testing," a local resident surnamed Liu said, noting complaints are understandable when the outdoor temperature is -20 C.

Worries over the spread of the virus and the cold made people anxious, Liu said, but most of the residents have shown understanding and patience.

Medical staff are more exposed to extreme cold and infection risks than the public, a local teacher who required anonymity told the Global Times.

But residents also noted there were problems in handling the testing, which pushed local authorities to improve their administrative capabilities amid the COVID-19 combat.

Gao Wei, a deputy mayor of Shenyang, admitted in an interview with CCTV news on Monday that some problems occurred at the beginning due to lack of experience and weak organization ability, making many residents wait outdoors in the bitter cold.

The authority has made new plans and improved the whole process, trying to get the staff to work indoors and residents to finish the tests within 15 minutes, Gao said.

As the second round of tests kicked off starting Monday, things were running more smoothly, the Global Times learned.

A local doctor reached by the Global Times said that apart from high-risk groups such as medical workers, who are required to take nucleic acid tests every 48 hours, residents in key areas could book times suitable for them.

Shenyang is experiencing a coronavirus resurgence, with 28 new confirmed cases and one asymptomatic case being reported since December 23. Sixteen residential communities have been ranked as medium-risk areas.

A wide range of testing and screening procedures are necessary to eliminate potential infections and curb the virus' spread, given the increasing difficulties in epidemic control in the winter, experts noted.

Local authorities have adopted different sampling methods -- individual sampling for medium-risk regions and key groups, and mixed sampling for low-risk areas, which can ensure more accurate results in areas where infections risks are high, and also lower costs and increase overall efficiency, Wang Guangfa, a respiratory expert at Peking University First Hospital, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

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