Enlarge /. This photo taken on Nov. 22, 2020 shows health workers in protective suits waiting to conduct COVID-19 coronavirus tests on employees at Pudong Airport in Shanghai.
Almost 18,000 workers were sealed at Shanghai's main airport on Sunday and tested for COVID-19 in one night after authorities discovered seven cases related to the facility's loading unit.
Social media was lit up with dramatic smartphone videos showing large numbers of workers in white protective suits pushing against guards on the airport parking structure.
On Monday morning, local authorities grabbed the situation and tweeted videos of the 17,719 workers in orderly rows waiting to be tested. Quiet piano music played in the background. According to the Washington Post, it remained unclear what happened to the workers afterwards – whether they were still being held at the airport, whether they were taken to a quarantine facility, or whether they were allowed to go home.
Local authorities reported that at least 11,544 tested negative.
The lock-in and test flash was triggered after a seventh case had been identified and connected to the charging unit. The first case identified involved a freight worker who tested positive on November 9 after checking into a hospital with a fever, fatigue and a stuffy nose. His employee tested positive the next day.
In the past three days – two weeks after those first two cases – five more cases have occurred. The five include a cargo inspector, the worker's wife, two other employees, and the wife of one of those employees.
One of the most recent cases is an employee of the UPS International Transit Center at Pudong Airport, according to the South China Post.
Wear your mask
In a press conference on Monday, local authorities said they believed the first two cases were infected when they jointly cleaned a shipping container from North America on October 30 without wearing masks.
"The environment inside the container is humid and that helps the coronavirus survive," said Sun Xiaodong, deputy director of the Shanghai Center for Disease Control and Prevention. Sun added that authorities had ruled out other transmission risks.
Hundreds of flights to the airport have been canceled since yesterday's test fight.
Zhou Junlong, vice president of Shanghai Airport Group, said airport workers will have access to experimental vaccines approved in China for emergency use in the future.