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Photo|Courtesy:China to keep coronavirus tests focused
China will focus testing for COVID-19 on high-risk groups such as people from infected areas or with symptoms, the head of a top state research institute said on Monday, suggesting that authorities are not about to rush into large-scale testing.

The government said recently that it intends to carry out more widespread testing to quickly identify and isolate carriers, following spikes in cases linked to people arriving from abroad and new local transmissions.

But China also said accuracy of tests must be improved and more laboratories should be set up. It is also unclear who would pay for any mass testing of hundreds of millions of people - the state, employers or the individual.

“(The country’s) current testing strategy matches our epidemic control and prevention strategy,” Jin Qi, president of the Institute of Pathogen Biology at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences and Peking Union Medical College.

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Tests are being carried mostly on high-risk groups such as people with symptoms or from infected areas, schools and hospitals, Jin told reporters at a briefing in Beijing.

Other groups that request testing, such as those returning to work that involves a high density of people, will receive tests as far as is possible, he added.

While people running a high fever and suffering from breathing problems are easy to identify, some carriers of the novel coronavirus show few or none of the usual symptoms and are just as capable of infecting others.

As of Sunday, 974 asymptomatic cases were under medical observation, Chinese health authorities said, after testing positive for the virus.

There is no official estimate of the number of asymptomatic carriers who are yet to be tested.

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