Oct. 12 (UPI) — The Chinese port city of Qingdao announced Monday it will test all 9 million residents as India inches closer to passing the United States as the most infected country to the pandemic.
The Qingdao Municipal Health Commission announced that it has launched a citywide program to test all of its residents within five days after a cluster of coronavirus cases were found connected to a hospital.
The city initiated the mass testing program after health authorities said Sunday that three patients at the Qingdao Chest Hospital, a designated hospital for overseas COVID-19 patients, had been confirmed infected and an investigation of 377 close contacts produced nine other positive tests, including hospitalized patients, nurses and a family member of one of the infected, China’s state-run Global Times reported.
The Qingdao health authority said the five districts of Shinan, Shibei, Licang, Laoshan and Chengyang home to about 6 million people will be tested over the next three days with the whole city to be done in five.
Once the epicenter of the pandemic, China has stabilized infections to low double- and single-digit daily increases for months, reporting its last death in April. Nation health officials on Monday reported 21 new cases, all of which were imported, for a total of 85,578 infections and 4,634 deaths.
Elsewhere in Asia, India on Monday added more than 60,000 infections a day after it passed the grim 7 million infection marker.
New Delhi health officials reported 66,732 new cases of COVID-19, pushing its total to 7.1 million and edging it closer to jumping the United States at 7.7 million for most cases worldwide.
Though by far the most infections recorded over Sunday, India’s tally is only the second time since late August the Asian nation has posted fewer than 70,000 cases.
India’s Ministry of Health said 81% of the new infections were reported in 10 states, with nearly half in only three of them. Officials also said they tested 994,851 people on Sunday.
Health officials also reported 816 lives lost in the past 24 hours for 109,150 deaths.
Meanwhile, in New Zealand where it was announced last week local transmission of the coronavirus had been eliminated for a second time, the education ministry unveiled border exceptions for a small number of international students.
The country of 5 million said it will allow 250 international Ph.D. and postgraduate students to enter and continue their studies, circumventing tight border restrictions with eyes on reviewing other possible border exceptions down the road.
“The exception today is a balanced decision that recognizes the vital role international education will play in the recovery and rebuild of New Zealand and the need to continue the fight against the pandemic,” Education Minister Chris Hipkin said in a statement. “It will enable us to welcome back a good portion of those Ph.D. and masters students who are caught off-shore and who need to be in New Zealand to complete their work.”
Those who will be allowed into the country are those with a visa for 2020 and long-term commitments to study in New Zealand prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, with plans for the first students to arrive next month and the majority to arrive in the new year.
Approximately 10,400 border exemptions have already been permitted, primarily for essential and critical workers and family members of New Zealand residents, the government said.
New Zealand on Monday also announced it had conducted 1 million coronavirus tests.
“Thanks to the dedication of all those who’ve worked tirelessly on the front line to carry out the testing,” the health ministry said on Twitter Monday. “This information is vital for monitoring the course of the outbreaks.”
Reaching the 1 million #COVID19 tests is a milestone for New Zealand’s response to the pandemic. Thanks to the dedication of all those who’ve worked tirelessly on the front line to carry out the testing. This information is vital for monitoring the course of the outbreaks.️— Ministry of Health – Manatū Hauora (@minhealthnz) October 12, 2020
New Zealand health officials said zero infections were diagnosed over Sunday, its first time recording no new cases since Oct. 2. It has diagnosed 1,515 confirmed COVID-19 cases including 25 deaths.
Worldwide, cases stood at 37.5 million and 1.07 million deaths early Monday, according to a live tracker of the virus by Johns Hopkins University.