China has reported its biggest cluster of asymptomatic coronavirus cases in nearly seven months — which it uncovered during a drive to test 4.7 million people after the discovery of a single infection.
Authorities in the Kashgar area of Xinjiang went into a partial lockdown almost as soon as a 17-year-old girl who works at a garment factory tested positive during routine weekly tests, the state-run Xinhua news agency said.
By Sunday afternoon, more than 2.8 million residents had been tested — with the rest expected to be completed by Tuesday.
The initial results showed 137 positive infections, with another 26 by Monday, Xinhua said. All 163 infected were asymptomatic — the highest number since China began reporting such daily counts on April 1.
The infected teen’s immediate family all tested negative, even though the cluster of cases appeared to be based at a different factory where her parents work, the South China Post reported. Yet all 831 workers at the factory where the girl works all tested negative, the report said.
The scale and speed of the testing highlighted the dramatic push by China to stamp out the contagion. Earlier this month, the port city of Qingdao tested its entire population of 9 million after just 12 cases were detected.
While the pandemic originated in Wuhan, China claims to have had fewer than 100,000 cases and less than 5,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University data — although its relatively low numbers have been met with skepticism.