A medical worker takes a swab sample from a citizen at a COVID-19 testing site in Binhai New Area in north China's Tianjin, Jan. 9, 2022. (Xinhua/Zhao Zishuo)
TIANJIN, Jan. 14 (Xinhua) -- North China's Tianjin Municipality will launch the third round of citywide nucleic acid testing at 7 a.m. Saturday, said the municipal epidemic prevention and control headquarters.
The mass testing is scheduled to be completed in about 24 hours, it added.
The municipality of 13.9 million people that neighbors Beijing has conducted two rounds of citywide mass testing.
The infections in Tianjin were first reported on Dec. 8, and the gene sequencing found the first two locally transmitted confirmed cases were the VOC/Omicron variant.
Conducting the third round of citywide nucleic acid testing is necessary to curb the spread of the highly infectious Omicron variant and protect the lives and health of citizens, Han Jinyan, deputy head of the municipal health commission, said at a press conference held on Friday.
"The Omicron variant is highly contagious and hard to detect. The first two rounds of mass testing have basically contained its spread in communities," said Han, adding that the third round is vital to block its transmission in the community.
The second reason for carrying out the third round of all-staff testing is to ensure the smooth holding of the upcoming Beijing Winter Olympics, Han said.
Thirdly, as the Spring Festival is approaching, personnel movement during the festival may increase the risk of the spread of the epidemic, Han noted.
"We hope that everyone can return home safely and through the third round of mass screening, we can detect hidden infections in the community early to best curb the epidemic," Han said.
As of Thursday, a total of 142 locally transmitted COVID-19 cases and 22 asymptomatic carriers have been logged in the latest epidemic resurgence in Tianjin. ■