Over 500 infections in one week: Small county in SW China's Sichuan grapples with Omicron surge
Published: May 17, 2022 01:50 PM Updated: May 17, 2022 01:47 PM

Health workers wearing personal protective equipment are seen while waiting for residents for nucleic acid tests in a compound on April 9, 2022. Photo: VCG
Health workers wearing personal protective equipment are seen while waiting for residents for nucleic acid tests in a compound on April 9, 2022. Photo: VCG

A small county in Southwest China's Sichuan Province, home to over 1 million residents, is grappling with an Omicron surge with infections already surpassing 500 in one week.

Linshui County, under Guang'an city, about 90 kilometers away from neighboring Chongqing, has recently emerged into public eyesight as worries intensified about how such a small county will cope with a highly-contagious Omicron.

Now the county is on the second day of mass nucleic acid testing with some 495,000 samples already collected. Another round will be conducted on Wednesday.

Since May 9, Guang'an has reported a tally of 588 infections, mostly from Linshui County.On Monday alone, Guang'an registered 15 confirmed and 72 asymptomatic cases.

Facing a coronavirus assault, the local government has arranged many channels to allocate anti-epidemic resources to address the shortage of resources to combat the sweeping virus, a staff surnamed Zhang from Red Cross in Linshui County told the Global Times on Tuesday.

The Red Cross has been receiving donations from across the country. Medical protective materials and disinfectant materials are mainly needed, such as masks, protective clothing and disinfectant, Zhang said.

Medicals, Party members and volunteers were mobilized to aid Linshui County to combat the virus.

Residents from the county reached by the Global Times said since May 10 afternoon, the county has shut down businesses such as restaurants and arranged residents to be tested.Due to the outbreak, some 360,000 students in Guangan city are having online classes.

Local authorities said they are working to achieve dynamic zero in the shortest time possible and cut off viral transmission chains.

The number of viral transmission chains in the county are circulating is still unknown but it is clear that the first discovered patient was a car-hailing driver who commute between Linshui and Chongqing.

Since the driver tested positive on May 10, more patients were recorded and related COVID-19 cases were found in Chongqing and Shenzhen, South China's Guangdong Province.

A health expert based in Beijing told the Global Times on condition of anonymity that drawing from Shanghai's and Beijing's experiences in handling Omicron, Linshui must act swiftly to conduct mass testing and impose static management in the county to screen out all potential cases and cut off transmission chains.

More cases are likely to be reported as more people undergo testing, the expert noted.

A small place like Linshui is easy to manage compared to big cities as it has a small population. Supplies will also be easily accessible once the aid channels are opened. The economic and social losses due to COVID-19 restrictions are relatively small compared with those of big cities, the expert said.