Taiwan health official ridiculed over comments on Qingdao’s COVID-19 testing

Source: Global Times Published: 2020/10/19 22:13:40

Taiwan Photo: Unsplash

Qingdao completed its citywide nucleic acid testing of nearly 11 million residents in five days -  inspiring news for the city and the world, except for those too bitter to acknowledge it. 

As of Friday, Qingdao, a coastal city in East China's Shandong Province, had carried out 10.8 million nucleic acid tests for all its residents with no new infections found, indicating that the risk of community transmission can be ruled out, something  Taiwan island's health department head Chen Shih-chung said is "impossible." 

The citywide free testing came after a new cluster of local COVID-19 infections in Qingdao emerged in October. The cluster was brought to an end in an orderly and efficient manner before the new outbreak could cause panic among the public - at least, this is how most people see it. 

As of 8 am on Monday, Qingdao had 13 confirmed cases who were hospitalized, including one critical case and two severe cases. 

However, Chen questioned Qingdao's citywide negative results, asking, "It's really great, but how is it possible?"

"Everyone knows that the current nucleic acid test reagents return a certain percentage of false negative and false positive results, but all 10 million tests [in Qingdao] came back as negative?" Chen said at the annual conference of the Society of Public Health in Taiwan on Saturday. 

However, Chen's suspicion  did not win him the approval he expected, instead drawing a backlash from netizens inside and outside the island. 

A netizen wrote on China's Twitter-like  Sina Weibo, "It's so funny to see how little Chen knows about the world." 

Even netizens on PTT, the largest terminal-based bulletin board system in the island of Taiwan where the core theme is hyping hatred against the Chinese mainland, mocked Chen's questions. 

One netizen wrote, "But this [large-scale testing] just couldn't be done in Taiwan."

"All the cases in Taiwan are only diagnosed after they have left the island, and the authorities don't have the courage to offer island-wide testing," another commented furiously, "so just keep telling lies!" 

Unlike Chen, a few major Western media outlets acknowledged Qingdao's efficiency and resolve. 

CNN recognized Qingdao's measures as the reason behind the success in keeping China's overall infection rates low since March, and "enabled life to return to relative normality." 


The BBC also gave credit to the mainland's massive testing, saying it was "in stark contrast to other parts of the world" where there are still high case numbers and lockdown restrictions. 

As early as August, several countries and regions had reported confirmed cases from the Taiwan island despite  Chen stressing that the positive rate among Taiwan travelers detected overseas was quite low. 

Netizens and media outlets in Taiwan have accused the island of being an "exporter" of COVID-19 cases, and claimed that the Democratic Progressive Party on the island has been exaggerating the island's "epidemic control myth." Some netizens also suspected that the authorities have been making excuses and denying the possibility of a surge in local infections. 

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