Kashgar, a town in China’s south Xinjiang region, has become the latest city where all of its residents will be tested for the novel coronavirus, after 137 asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 were reported there.
With the city locked down, all of its 4.7 million residents will now be tested with China claiming to have tested 2.8 million already and with the remaining tests to be carried out within the next few days, Pop-up booths have been set up across the city, with medical workers in PPE suits administering the tests.
The first case was of a 17-year-old girl whose parents worked at a clothing factory in “No. 3 Village,” the Beijing News reported.
The possibility of an outbreak in Xinjiang has long been feared, given the precarious labour and living conditions of the region’s predominantly Muslim population. China has used forced labour in Xinjiang to staff factories making everything from cotton to computer parts and hair products.
China is accused of mass detentions, religious persecution and the forced sterilisation of Uighurs and others in the resource-rich northwestern province.
The mass testing of an entire city had previously been done in the city of Qingdao in October, with nine million having been tested in just five days. Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan and Hubei in January, China has reported just over 85,000 cases of COVID-19. Despite initial questions over these figures, the country continued to reopen its economy and was among the first in the world to restart factory production. Short of a second wave of infections, China has instead seen localised outbreaks—which it claims were swiftly contained.