Shanghai’s biggest international airport momentarily descended into chaos Sunday night, after authorities ordered a mass testing drive in response to a small outbreak of Covid-19 linked to several cargo handlers.
Since the beginning of November, seven cargo workers and their close contacts at the Shanghai Pudong International Airport have been diagnosed as confirmed coronavirus cases, including two reported on Sunday.
In a bid to contain the cluster, authorities ordered all cargo staff at the airport to undergo coronavirus tests overnight and set up a temporary testing site on the second floor of a parking garage, according to a statement from the Shanghai government.
Photos and videos circulating on Chinese social media show hundreds of people packed closely together inside the garage — the opposite of social distancing — with a line of people in hazmat suits trying to hold back crowds pushing forward.
But the chaos appeared to have calmed before midnight, when the airport police posted photos on Weibo showing workers lining up orderly for the tests.
As of Monday morning, 17,719 samples had been collected. Of the 11,544 samples that have been tested, all received negative results, officials said at a news conference.
While the initial chaos has drawn criticism on Chinese social media, the swift, drastic response over just a few cases highlights the length the Chinese government is willing to go to in order to stamp out any resurgence of the virus.