6 Million People Tested: Being in Qingdao Today.
6,000,000 people tested in five days.
You read that right. The health department and government of Qingdao, China has decided to test six million people over five days. No this is not a joke or satirical news, this is reality confirmed by both the BBC, the government reports from Qingdao, and Chinese staff that I work with.
Over the weekend, it was confirmed that there were several new cases in Qingdao. I have heard numbers from 3 to 12 at this point, all reported by the various news sources. I do not know which of the numbers to believe. What I do know is that each of those cases either came from someone who lives in Qingdao or is directly connected to someone who lives here. The key point, they did not come from someone who was overseas then returned to China.
Qingdao is in the process of a massive undertaking in the area of testing. Six million people is a whole lot of people to test. Once the tests are completed, they must then be processed and the data returned, all in short order. Think about what it takes to make that happen.
I can tell you that we were told yesterday that all of Qingdao was going to be tested. We were also told that they medical testing team would show up within 72 hours and test the school. It is very easy to say that, but much harder to actually do it.
A public announcement was made to the entire school at about 10:30 a.m. today telling us that the team had arrived, and they would call us down in groups of ten. This was no small feat as the email with the groups had only gone out a few minutes before and students were everywhere. Names were called then students and staff started to arrive for staging, then they were taken for testing. Somewhat surprising was how smooth it all ran.
There are approximately 250 students in my school plus teachers and supporting staff and administration. Everyone was checked in, moved to the testing site on the field, names were checked again as we were placed in order, then we were tested. All of us, between 350 and 400 people, were tested in one hour by two people. It moved like clockwork.
The testing process was simple. Step up to the person doing the testing, confirm your name a final time, open your mouth, get a throat swab, then step to the side when finished. When the group of ten was finished, we were free to go. Fast, easy, and quick.
The reason for the groups of ten was our batch testing. At first, we heard that the tests would be in groups of five, and it sounds like they were yesterday. I can only assume that the groups of ten makes batch testing that much faster and efficient. Each of our swabs from the group of ten went into one container. They will go to the lab and be tested as a group. If the lot tests positive, all ten of us will be re-tested under more stringent conditions. This also reduces the number of tests from six million to 600,000, a significant drop in numbers and an efficient method.
What are the next steps? We truly don’t know. It depends entirely on the number of tests that show positive in Qingdao and the response. The best guess is reduced ability to travel, return to full masks and testing measures at large businesses, contact tracing apps being processed, and potentially lockdown for 14 days. Worst case, Qingdao becomes a quarantine site like Wuhan. Thought I don’t see that happening based on responses from Beijing when there were positive cases.
As an educator and a human, I worry about where this leads. As was suggested, more testing equals more positive cases. We will see an increase in cases in Qingdao undoubtedly. However, we will also know where the virus is an how it has spread in the community based on testing and contact tracing.
Qingdao is not messing around.
There are those who would say that this is a violation of my rights. I am required to be tested, and I may be required to test again. If one would like to argue that point, so be it. It is a violation of my rights. However, at the same time, the country I live in is trying to ensure that its population is safe, healthy, and disease free or at least managing it effectively. If you think this is a violation, how is your country doing?
I respect the need and desire to test in large numbers. It shows that China is serious about managing this pandemic. It is doing so safely, efficiently, and effectively. This weekend, we will be one of the safest places in the world knowing our infection levels and where they are.
Remember, Qingdao is taking these measures with no more than 12 active cases. There is not question about doing it. There is no discussion. We are just doing it to manage an outbreak that is no more than 12 cases. Right now, people are arguing the opening of school when cases far exceed this number daily.
Is it a violation of my rights? No. Not if I believe that part of my rights is to care for others and not just myself.
Today, I am happy to be living in China. I feel safe. I feel like the government is doing its best to protect its people. I feel that they are making good decisions for the betterment of the country. I wish all countries would make the same decisions.