Covid-19: Beijing can screen nearly 1 million people daily for coronavirus

One test tube has samples from many people.

Belmont Lay| June 22, 2020, 12:55 AM

Beijing is capable of screening almost 1 million people a day for the coronavirus, Gao Xiaojun, spokesman for the Beijing Health Commission, told a press briefing on Sunday, June 21.

Mass testing has continued across the city to contain the spread of a fresh outbreak.

The city of 20 million has seen testing expanded after a cluster of infections linked to a food wholesale market erupted over a week ago.

The outbreak is worrying.

It is the first in Beijing in months, and the number of cases has surpassed previous peak numbers in early February.

Testing was initially focused on people who worked or shopped at the Xinfadi market or lived nearby.

Residents in many other parts of the city as well as food and parcel delivery workers are now also being tested.

Since the new outbreak, capacity has more than doubled to more than 230,000 tests daily at 124 institutions, Gao said.

Pooling samples method of testing

The current method of conducting tests involves pooling of samples.

This means testing samples collected from multiple people in one test tube.

This works on the assumption that the great majority of people do not have the virus, and it is highly likely individual test tubes would turn up negative, effectively clearing multiple people at once.

The city can get results from almost 1 million people daily this way, Gao added.

The same pooling of samples was also carried out in Wuhan in May to quickly ramp up daily testing capacity after a cluster of new cases sparked fears of a second wave.

Gao also said that provinces including Hubei and Liaoning had sent about 200 people to Beijing to boost staff in laboratories.

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