• By The Financial District


China has started mass testing for COVID-19 in Xinjiang after Chinese authorities curtailed most flights into Xinjiang's capital Urumqi and shut down local subway and public transport services.

Mass health screenings in Xinjiang on Saturday after a spike in coronavirus cases raised fears of a fresh outbreak in the far western province, the Agence France Presse (AFP) reported on Saturday night, July 18, 2020. The new cases illustrate the continuing difficulty China faces in stamping out the contagion, which emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year before spreading around the world.

The city had recorded 17 new coronavirus infections as of Saturday, authorities said in a briefing. Mass screening for the virus will begin in buildings which have reported new cases and eventually cover all of Urumqi, said local health commission chief Zhang Wei. "The whole city has entered a 'wartime state', and will suspend all kinds of group activities," an official said at the briefing, according to state media reports.

Urumqi residents were also urged not to leave the city unless absolutely necessary. Strict lockdowns across the country and widespread COVID-19 testing largely brought the outbreak under control within Chinese borders earlier this year. But a new cluster emerged in Beijing in June and infected more than 330 people before it was contained, after millions of people living in the capital were tested for transmission.