Outbreak in Suzhou

It’s been over two years since the COVID-19 pandemic started and Suzhou had not had an outbreak yet. Now with Omicron it was just a matter of time… and it finally happened.

Last week, a worker in a company located in Suzhou Industrial Park, aka SIP, was positive during a routine test. All her family, colleagues and contacts were tested. At this point, some schools already announced that they would postpone the start of the semester (students were still on Chinese New Year holidays). A handful of other positives were found during the weekend, and on Monday, February 14th, Suzhou woke up with the news that two whole districts (SIP and Wuzhong) needed to test all their residents. And Valentine’s day plans were thus scrapped (I saw a video of bunches and bunches of flowers piled up on community gates, as delivery guys could not enter).

Long lines to get tested.

Each residential community closed off their perimeter and erected testing camps inside their premises. It seems testing staff stayed up all night to prepare everything. Testing started at 6 am and long lines formed in each community. It seems samples are analysed in batches (instead of one by one), so if there’s a positive in one batch, everybody in it would be re-tested. After getting the swab (through the mouth, thankfully, China started using oral swabs very early on) people would get a pink slip and only then were they allowed to leave their residential community. I don’t know if everybody went to work afterwards, but at least my friends did. Considering that at this point they didn’t have their results yet, it seems weird that they allowed people to go to work before getting their test results.

This place is not far from where my husband’s grandma lives.

More positives were found through these mass tests, so this morning (Wednesday), everybody went through the second round of testing. As of now there are 42 confirmed cases, which by China’s standard is already a serious outbreak.

I talked to my parents in law this morning and at that time they could still go out, but I’m not sure if the situation will change soon, considering the increase in positives. For now, many entries & exits in the highways around Suzhou were closed, intercity buses were cancelled and boarding a train requires a negative test result.

Queues in Mudu Town (Lingyan temple visible on top of the mountain in the background). The guy filming this video had to queue for 3.5 hours.

All images are screenshots from this YouTube video. It was nice seeing those familiar places, but I’m not missing those half grey skies. I hope the Suzhou outbreak is contained soon!