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Coronavirus: Entire region in China's Xinjiang is tested for COVID-19 for new virus outbreak

China has screened an entire region in Xinjiang for the coronavirus after authorities found a single new case in a local outbreak. 

Health authorities reported the first infection on Saturday, a 17-year-old female garment factory worker in Xinjiang's north-western region Kashgar, home to ethnic Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims.

Another 137 symptomless patients were found yesterday after the local government launched an emergency response to test all 4.75million people in the entire region.

Health authorities reported the first case on Saturday, a 17-year-old female manufacturing worker in Xinjiang's northwestern region Kashgar, home to ethnic Uighurs and other Turkic Muslims. The file photo shows residents being screened in Urumqi, Xinjiang on August 13

Kashgar, a vast region in Xinjiang covering 162,000 square kilometres (62,549 square miles) of land, consists of one county-level city, Kashgar city, and 11 counties with 4.75million residents

More than 2.84million people in the Kashgar area had been tested as of Sunday afternoon with the rest expected to be completed by Tuesday.

Kashgar, a vast region in Xinjiang covering 162,000 square kilometres (62,549 square miles) of land, consists of one county-level city, Kashgar city, and 11 counties with 4.75million residents.

Xinjiang last saw a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in July, one of the handful of flare-ups in China since its initial outbreak appeared to have been contained. 

A total of over 890 cases were reported during the outbreak in Xinjiang's regional capital, Urumqi. No new cases had been found in the region since August 15.

But Xinjiang has been hit by a new wave of infections over the weekend after reporting the highest single-day increase of new symptomless infections in nearly seven month - since China began reporting daily counts of those cases on April 1.

The first patient, a 17-year-old woman, was found after being tested during a regular inspection and has been transferred to a hospital in the city, the Xinjiang health commission said. 

She was said to have been discovered during routine weekly testing in Xinjiang for what state media called key groups of people. It did not specify who was in those groups or why she was among those tested. 

China has recorded the highest number of asymptomatic coronavirus infections since April after detecting a local outbreak linked to a garment factory in Xinjiang. Social media footage allegedly shows residents in Kashgar lining up to receive coronavirus tests over the weekend

Social media footage allegedly shows Kashgar residents lining up to receive COVID-19 tests while the city centre turned into a ghost town with empty streets. A total of 138 asymptomatic coronavirus cases has been found in the north-western region of Xinjiang since Saturday

Another 137 asymptomatic cases were found on Sunday during a drive to test 4.75 million people in the Kashgar area following the first reported infection. 

It was not clear how the teenager was infected though, the official Xinhua news agency said. All of the new cases were linked to another garment factory where the patient's parents work. The parents had not tested positive for the virus, however, it said. 

All close contacts of the Kashgar patient have been isolated for medical observation and local authorities are carrying out epidemiological investigations, the Xinjiang health commission said. 

Many Kashgar-bound flights were cancelled on Saturday, according to travel platforms. Schools in the region have been closed and residents are not allowed to leave the city unless they have a negative test report.

Social media footage allegedly shows Kashgar residents lining up to receive COVID-19 tests while the city centre turned into a ghost town with empty streets.

A total of 20 new confirmed and 161 new asymptomatic cases were reported in the mainland on Sunday, the National Health Commission said in a statement.

Health authorities reported the first case on Saturday, a 17-year-old female manufacturing worker in Xinjiang's north-western region Kashgar. Women wearing face masks work at a garment factory in a resettlement area on June 21, 2020 in Yecheng County, Xinjiang

Xinjiang last saw a resurgence of COVID-19 cases in July, one of the handful of flare-ups in China since its initial outbreak appeared to have been contained.  A medical worker is pictured giving a child nucleic acid testing in Urumqi, Xinjiang on July 19 during the local outbreak

The scale and speed of the testing is in line with efforts to stamp out other recent clusters of infection in China, including one in Qingdao city this month.

Earlier this month, the eastern Chinese port city of Qingdao reported 13 confirmed coronavirus infections, with most of the cases linked to a local hospital, prompting authorities to test nearly 11million residents within four days to curb the virus spread.

The government said that the cause of the city's latest health crisis was traced to two infected patients who were responsible for unloading frozen seafood at the port. 

Though the number of new cases is down sharply in mainland China from peaks in February, the government is wary of another wave of infections and maintains mass, rapid testing capabilities.

The virus emerged in the central city of Wuhan late last year. The total number of confirmed cases in mainland China stands at 85,810, while the death toll unchanged at 4,634.

Chinese health expert suggests new COVID-19 outbreak in Xinjiang is triggered by ‘dropped temperature’ 

Beijing's top epidemiologist has claimed that the new coronavirus outbreak in Xinjiang's Kashgar could be triggered by 'dropped temperature'.

Yang Gonghuan, a former deputy director of the Chinese CDC, told reporters today that the infection cluster is associated with the change of temperature as the winter is approaching. 

She added that coronavirus cases are expected to rise in the winter season, but they could be contained with appropriate lockdown measures.

'If the quarantine measures are efficient enough, it would not spread on a large scale,' Yang told the Red Star News. 

'I don't think [Xinjiang's outbreak] would be like the one we had in January [in Wuhan].'

As of Sunday, a total of 138 asymptomatic infections has been reported in Xinjiang's Kashgar. Chinese authorities said they are still investigating the source of the local outbreak.

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