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China's Qingdao city says coronavirus cluster traced to two dock workers

BEIJING (REUTERS) – The cause of an outbreak of the novel coronavirus at a hospital in the Chinese coastal city of Qingdao was traced to two infected dock workers, the authorities said on Friday (Oct 16).

The workers had check-ups in an examination room at the Qingdao Chest Hospital, and the room was contaminated due to insufficient disinfection and protection measures, a Qingdao health official told a media briefing.

One of the workers had tested positive for the virus in late September, but developed symptoms only after 20 days, on Oct 14, the Qingdao Municipal Health Commission said in a statement.

No details were given on the second worker. Both of them were asymptomatic, the official said.

In September, Qingdao health authorities found coronavirus contamination on some packages stored by a seafood importer after two of its handlers tested positive for the virus but displayed no symptoms.

It was unclear whether or not the two handlers were the two infected dock workers.

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In response to the outbreak, Qingdao launched a citywide test for the virus on Oct 12, and expects to complete testing all of its nine million residents by Friday.

It reported 13 new infections this week, most linked to the Qingdao Chest Hospital, where infected travellers arriving from overseas had been treated in an isolation area.

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