China has dispatched military and thousands of healthcare workers to help carry out COVID-19 tests for 26 million residents of Shanghai, in the country’s biggest public health response ever.
It comes nearly a week after the country’s financial hub was placed under partial lockdown in a bid to contain the fresh COVID-19 outbreak.
A report in Reuters, citing an armed forces newspaper, said the People's Liberation Army (PLA) had sent over 2,000 medical personnel from the Army, Navy, and joint logistics support forces to Shanghai.
According to media reports, more than 10,000 healthcare workers from provinces such as Jiangsu, Zhejiang, and Beijing have been recruited for the massive health mission.
It is the country’s largest public health response since the initial COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, where the novel coronavirus was first discovered in early 2020.
PLA had dispatched over 4,000 medical personnel to the province of Hubei, where Wuhan is located, back then.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has urged officials to make all-out efforts in containing the fresh coronavirus outbreak while adhering to its "dynamic-clearance" policy.
On Saturday, Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan, during a visit to Shanghai to review the progress of mass testing, called on officials to "make resolute and swift moves" to defeat the disease.
Shanghai began a two-stage lockdown last week with city residents being asked to stay home and the main airport and business district known as Pudong going into lockdown.
The city reported 8,581 asymptomatic COVID-19 cases and 425 symptomatic COVID cases on Sunday, as authorities asked residents to self-test using antigen tests for the virus.
National Health Commission, a governmental body responsible for formulating national health policies, noted that there were "no new deaths".
The latest COVID-19 surge in Shanghai has been attributed to the highly-contagious Omicron variant of the coronavirus, spotted first in South Africa late last year, which has brought the bustling commercial city to a grinding halt.
The city had managed its smaller, past outbreaks with limited lockdowns.
The fresh measures being enforced in Shanghai aim to "curb the virus spread, protect people's life and health, and achieve the dynamic zero-COVID target as soon as possible," the city's COVID-19 prevention and control office stated in a statement last week.
China has called its "zero-tolerance" approach the most economical and effective prevention strategy against the pandemic.
The country’s anti-coronavirus measures, including mass testing, vaccination, and lockdown of cities and provinces for even small numbers of infections, have been largely successful in curbing the disease.