Issues resolved after crash of testing system

Chengdu COVID headquarters apologizes for failure that led to hours of waiting

Medical workers use a mobile stand to provide COVID-19 testing in Chengdu, Sichuan province, on Sept 3. (HAO FEI / FOR CHINADAILY)

Authorities in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan province, apologized on Saturday for the failure of the city's new nucleic acid testing system on Friday, while resulted in long testing lines on a rainy night.

"We feel empathy, anxiety and deeply guilty, and sincerely accept the public's criticism and express our sincerest apologies to the people of the city," the city's COVID-19 control headquarters said on Saturday.

Chengdu reported 72 COVID-19 cases and 52 asymptomatic infections on Saturday, bringing the current tally to 850 and 345 respectively, according to the Sichuan Provincial Health Commission.

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Following four days of citywide nucleic acid testing from Thursday, the city will launch three more days of testing from Monday to Wednesday, the city's COVID-19 control headquarters said on Sunday.

Chengdu reported 72 COVID-19 cases and 52 asymptomatic infections on Saturday, bringing the current tally to 850 and 345 respectively, according to the Sichuan Provincial Health Commission

Citywide static management was imposed at 6 pm on Thursday following the latest outbreak, which began on Aug 25. Residents are required to remain at home and unnecessary business activity has been suspended.

Households under lockdown are permitted to send one member with a negative nucleic acid result taken from within 24 hours to go out for two hours each day to buy supplies.

Residents requiring medical treatment may enter and leave their residences with community consent, according to epidemic control regulations.

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From Thursday evening, Chengdu began administering nucleic acid tests in individual residential areas instead of on streets to avoid potential cross-infection, which can happen when crowds gather.

"With a negative nucleic acid result, I can leave my residential neighborhood to go shopping," said Li Linyuan, a middle-aged resident of the Shuguang Road area.

A vendor sells vegetables on his tricycle on the Shumingdong Road in Chengdu, Sichuan province on Sept 2. (HUANG ZHILING / CHINADAILY.COM.CN)

But on Friday evening, many residents like Li were unable to take a test because the city's new testing system introduced earlier that day, crashed.

Residents across the city waited in long queues but were eventually sent home later that night because of the system's collapse.

The city was forced to make an adjustment on Saturday which permitted those able to produce a negative nucleic acid result taken from within 48 hours to enter and exit residential areas. Residents in need of medical treatment were given the same exemption.

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With the new school year about to begin, the Chengdu Education Bureau issued an emergency notice to schools stating that students without a nucleic acid test result from Sept 2 as a result of the system breakdown would still be permitted to enroll for the new semester.

Chengdu students had previously been required to undergo testing for five consecutive days before going back to school.

As a result of static management, residential areas tend to be crowded with strollers and playing children. Consequently, some kind-hearted residents have volunteered to keep order and facilitate nucleic acid testing.

Zhou Chengjin, a mother of two sons, has been working as a volunteer since Saturday.

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Along with the other volunteers, she is monitoring the one-meter self-distancing line at the nucleic acid testing site, and has been asking residents to get tested through the residential compound's WeChat group and to help elderly residents to the testing site.

In appreciation of her hard work, which lasted six hours on Saturday, one neighbor offered her some bread fresh from the oven, prompting Zhou to say that it was nice to live in such a thoughtful compound.

According to the National Health Commission, the Chinese mainland reported 314 COVID-19 cases and 1,359 asymptomatic cases on Saturday.