China has sent the military and thousands of healthcare workers into Shanghai to help carry out COVID-19 tests for all of its 26 million residents as cases continued to rise on Monday.
Some residents woke up before dawn for white-suited healthcare workers to swab their throats as part of nucleic acid testing at their housing compounds, many queuing up in their pyjamas and standing the required two metres apart.
The People's Liberation Army (PLA) on Sunday dispatched more than 2,000 medical personnel from across the army, navy and joint logistics support forces to Shanghai, an armed forces newspaper reported.
More than 10,000 healthcare workers from provinces such as Jiangsu, Zhejiang and Beijing have arrived in Shanghai, according to state media reports, which showed them arriving, suitcase-laden and masked up, by high-speed rail and aircraft.
It is China's largest public health response since it tackled the initial COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus was first discovered in late 2019. The State Council said the PLA dispatched more than 4,000 medical personnel to the province of Hubei, where Wuhan is, at that time.
Shanghai, which began a two-stage lockdown on March 28 that has been expanded to confine practically all residents to their homes, reported 8,581 asymptomatic COVID-19 cases and 425 symptomatic COVID cases for April 3. It also asked residents to self-test on Sunday.
Although the outbreak is small by global standards, the city has emerged as a test of China's elimination strategy based on testing, tracing and quarantining all positive cases and their close contacts.
The exercise in China's most populous city takes place on the eve of when Shanghai initially said it planned to lift the city's lockdown.
The country has 12,400 institutions capable of processing tests from as many as 900 million people a day, a senior Chinese health official was reported as saying last month.
China's primarily uses pool testing, a process in which up to 20 swab samples are mixed together for more rapid processing.
The city has also converted multiple hospitals, gymnasiums, apartment blocks and other venues into central quarantine sites, including the Shanghai New International Expo Center, can hold 15,000 patients at full capacity.