China’s northern most port city of Dalian is scrambling to control an outbreak of COVID-19 launching a mass testing program after a virus cluster was identified. Operations at the port were briefly interrupted and according to some reports the cold chain portion of the port remains closed.
Located on China’s northern Pacific coast, Dalian is one of China’s ten largest ports handling approximately 10 million TEU annually. It is also a primary transshipment port receiving shipments from Asia for distribution into the Chinese mainland.
Chinese state media reports that the outbreak was identified on December 15 with an asymptomatic individual who reportedly worked as a loader for a cold chain importer. Other reports mention a restaurant worker. The Chinese media said that testing began and operations at the cold-chain supply were paused to ensure that no contaminated food entered the supply chain.
Between December 15 and 24, the outbreak grew with between 15 and 20 confirmed patients and as many as 20 additional confirmed asymptomatic cases. Announcing that they had added seven patients on Thursday, December 24 as well as one more positive test on a person not showing symptoms, China increased its response across the city.
Several neighborhoods in the Dalian area have now been ordered to go into lockdown with schools and other public places closed. Residents are being told to stay home except for essential travel to work. Citywide, only residents who have a negative COVID test are being permitted to leave the city, while the Hong Kong Standard newspaper reports that a third of flights out of Dalian have been canceled.
The Chinese government also launched a mass testing program to identify the scope of the clusters in the city. Several million residents in six areas of the city were asked today, December 25, to immediately undergo testing and the government warned that individuals who did not test and spread the virus would be investigated under Chinese law.
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