Chaos descended on Shanghai Pudong International Airport (PVG) on Sunday night as officials attempted to stem a COVID-19 outbreak by testing thousands of cargo workers after seven cases were confirmed amongst staff in the last week. While state media reports that all employees underwent nucleic acid testing overnight, a video shared on social media shows workers jumping over walls in a bid to escape mandatory testing.
Other videos showed crowds of workers pushing back against a cordon of hazmat-suited officials as they attempted to corral the cargo employees into a parking garage where testing stations had been hastily arranged.
The English language Global Times said several cargo handlers and their close contacts had tested positive for the novel coronavirus over the “past several days.” As the mass-testing got underway, airport officials locked down the airport resulting in at least 277 flights being cancelled.
“The risk of virus being imported through international logistics is of great concern to health authorities,” the state-run newspaper reported. In recent months, health officials have expressed alarm over the risk of COVID-19 being imported via frozen food products where the virus can survive for much longer.
One video shared on Twitter claimed that up to 100,000 travellers had also been prevented from leaving the airport and were being forced into quarantine. Local media, however, reported that only airport staffers were subject to testing and possible quarantine.
By Monday, airlines operating out for Shanghai Pudong said flights were running as scheduled. An airport spokesperson told the Xinhua news agency that the areas where the infected employees had been working had now been disinfected.
Mateusz Maszczynski honed his skills as an international flight attendant at the most prominent airline in the Middle East and has been flying throughout the COVID-19 pandemic for a well-known European airline. Matt is passionate about the aviation industry and has become an expert in passenger experience and human-centric stories. Always keeping an ear close to the ground, Matt's industry insights, analysis and news coverage is frequently relied upon by some of the biggest names in journalism.