Several videos of wild scenes at Shanghai Pudong Airport have emerged after workers tested positive to the coronavirus on Sunday night.
Authorities introduced mandatory coronavirus testing of all its staff, with flights into Shanghai largely cancelled on Sunday night. Airport workers were asked to be tested, beginning around 3pm, an airport employee told the Global Times.
A number of unverified videos soon emerged on social media of chaotic scenes as people dressed in personal protective equipment tried in vain to direct hordes of people at the airport.
Wild scenes at Shanghai Pudong airport – multiple vids going around of what appears to be a sudden decision by authorities to test all staff for #COVID19 after 2 positive cases detected. Reports say authorities ultimately relented as things were getting out of hand. pic.twitter.com/Xenus4dHPR
— Bill Birtles (@billbirtles) November 22, 2020
Some workers at Shanghai Pudong International Airport tested positive for the coronavirus, so they tried to force thousands of people into the parking garage for mandatory testing.
The people weren't happy about it. Many escaped.
November 22, 2020 pic.twitter.com/XpRi5WUqPi
— Things China Doesn't Want You To Know (@TruthAbtChina) November 22, 2020
Massive chaos at the #Shanghai Pudong International Airport in #China after sudden announcement by the authorities to test all staff for #COVID19 after detection of two positive cases. The crowd trying to break the blockade as were forced to be quarantined. #Coronavirus pic.twitter.com/iwx9Aw4vUe
— RAVEEN (@raveenaujmaya) November 22, 2020
There have been seven confirmed cases among workers at the Pudong Airport and recent outbreaks of the virus in China as winter approaches have raised fears among some residents.
However, daily infection numbers in China are still very low and have been mostly under 100 cases a day since March when the country managed to bring its first outbreak under control.
Melbourne University epidemiologist Professor Tony Blakely told news.com.au that China’s infection rate was less than 0.01 per cent of other places such as the US, Spain and France and the UK.
While there has been questions of whether the Chinese data can be trusted, Prof Blakely said the country had been doing a lot of testing and he did not think this was fabricated.
“The numbers are definitely low … even if they were tenfold higher they are still are lot lower than those in the US and UK,” he said.
At its height, coronavirus cases in China reached more than 4000 a day before dropping to a handful of infections in May. There have since been a few days where cases climbed back to 200 a day in July but mostly infection rates have remained under 100 a day.
This is an extraordinary achievement given China has a population of around 1.4 billion people. Since the beginning of the pandemic there have been just 92,000 cases and 4700 deaths.
This compares to the US, a country with a much lower population of around 330 million, where cases have exceeded 12 million and where more than 250,000 people have died.
The Lancet recently explored China’s approach to controlling the virus and pointed to a number of significant factors in its success.
This includes the country’s experience with the SARS outbreak and the willingness of the Chinese people to wear masks and take other precautions.
It noted that ageing parents also tended to live with their children or nearby, with only 3 per cent of the country’s elderly population living in care homes. This has helped it avoid the outbreaks in these facilities that have been a problem in other western countries, including Australia.
As the world’s largest manufacturer of personal protective equipment, it was able to ramp up production of much-needed masks and gowns.
Surveillance techniques were also introduced, including the use of drones to identify and rebuke those not doing the right thing.
“Yes Aunty, this drone is talking to you”, the drone told one startled woman in Inner Mongolia through a loudspeaker.
“You shouldn’t walk around without wearing a mask. You’d better go home and don’t forget to wash your hands”.
Mayo Clinic vaccine research group director Gregory Poland said the speed of China’s response was also a crucial factor.
“They moved very quickly to stop transmission. Other countries, even though they had much longer to prepare for the arrival of the virus, delayed their response and that meant they lost control,” he told The Lancet.
Once the outbreak was identified early this year, public transport was suspended in Wuhan where the virus was first detected, and this was expanded to other cities in the province.
Around 14,000 health checkpoints were established at public transport hubs around the country and the return to school for students was delayed after winter holidays.
Many cities only allowed one person in each household to leave the home every couple of days to grab groceries or other supplies.
Within months 16 Fangcang hospitals were opened to isolate people with mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19, with those suffering severe disease transferred to conventional hospitals.
China managed to test nine million people for the coronavirus in Wuhan in just a few weeks and set up an effective contact tracing system across the country.
In comparison, the UK’s contact tracing system was quickly overwhelmed once the pandemic took hold.