More than 300,000 tests completed as of Sunday morning, but authorities don’t say if any more infections have been found

China’s top epidemiologist described an earlier mass testing programme in the east China city of Qingdao as ‘overkill’

More than 300,000 people in the west China city of Kashgar have been tested for

since a local teenager was confirmed as being an

, local authorities said on Sunday.

The city’s remaining 400,000 or so residents will be tested over the next two days, according to the local epidemic prevention and control headquarters.

The mass testing programme was launched after a 17-year-old girl was found to be infected during a routine screening in Shufu county.

The city government immediately imposed travel restrictions – cancelling public transport and flights – and people were asked not to leave their neighbourhoods to allow for medical staff to carry out nucleic tests. The city’s schools have also been told to close.

The epidemic control centre said on Sunday said that more than 308,000 of Kashgar’s 700,000 residents had been tested at 600-plus test centres and the rest would be completed over the next two days.

The mass testing programme was initiated despite one of China’s top health experts expressing doubts about the efficacy of such measures.

In an interview with

on Saturday,

, chief epidemiologist at the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, described the use of such tactics in the east China city of Qingdao – where

in five days recently – as “overkill”.

The universal screening programme failed to identify any new cases, and a more localised approach would have been more suitable, Wu said.

“Qingdao was determined to do it, but it’s overkill,” he said.

The case in Kashgar, in the far west region of

, is the latest in a run of isolated infections in China, with similar incidents being reported in Beijing,

, as well as Qingdao.

Beijing resident Cecilia Hu said she received a call from Kashgar’s health authorities in the early hours of Sunday morning because she had visited the city last week.

“They just wanted to confirm that I had been in Kashgar a few days ago, and what my current location was,” she said.

Authorities in Beijing issued a notice on Sunday advising residents to avoid travelling to Kashgar.

Despite the cancellation of some flights on Saturday, state media reported on Sunday that Kashgar airport was in operation but anyone flying out of the city would have to provide a negative result in a nucleic acid test.

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