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Mudanjiang in China’s north-eastern Heilongjiang Province on the border with Russia launched compulsory city-wide screening on Monday. The move follows a similar mass testing campaign in Wuhan, the central Chinese city at the epicentre of the coronavirus pandemic.
And it comes after municipal health commission chiefs total reported the presence of 15 so-called “silent spreaders” – COVID-19 carriers with no outward signs of the disease – in the city.
All 2.8 million residents have been ordered to queue for coronavirus tests this week.
Officials have drafted in a specialist team of 1,196 medics from 11 hospitals and 12 secondary care facilities.
Gated communities under closed management are testing their own residents and public squares and primary schools have been converted into temporary COVID-19 testing stations.
Mudanjiang remains the only city in Heilongjiang to be reporting new infections in what is being described as a third wave of mainly asymptomatic carriers.
Health chiefs reported no new cases in mid-May but by the end of the month noted a resurgence of COVID-19.
The discovery came in the day secondary school’s reopened and saw students sent back home just hours after arriving when lessons were abruptly halted.
Wuhan is close to completing its screening campaign which officials said had reached 9.9 of its 11 million residents by the start of this week.
The testing programme, which began on May 14th May and cost the city more than £100 million, identified more than 300 asymptomatic carriers.
But Wuhan officials said COVID-19 had now been eradicated in the city where the majority of China’s coronavirus deaths occurred.
Health authorities have recorded 83,022 confirmed cases and 4,634 deaths there since the start of the outbreak last December.
The number of global coronavirus cases has now surpassed six million with Latin America reporting the grim milestone of 50,000 deaths from the disease.
Countries such as Brazil, Chile and Mexico are struggling to stem the spread of the virus, which initially peaked in China in February before large-scale outbreaks followed in Europe and the United States.
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The COVID-19 respiratory illness has claimed more than 367,000 lives worldwide, though the true number is thought to be higher as testing is still limited and many countries do not include fatalities outside of hospitals.
The first 41 cases of coronavirus were confirmed in Wuhan on January 10 and it took the world until April 1 to reach its first million cases.
Since then, about a million new cases have been reported every fortnight.
Despite the continued increase in cases, many countries are opening schools and workplaces following weeks of unprecedented lockdowns that have stemmed the spread of the disease but also battered economies and thrown millions out of work.
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