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

FILE PHOTO: People wearing face masks line up for nucleic acid testing in Qingdao

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, authorities said on Friday.

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 only developed symptoms 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.

In response to the outbreak, Qingdao launched a city-wide test for the virus on Oct. 12, and expects to complete testing all of its 9 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.

(Reporting by Liangping Gao and Ryan Woo; Editing by Robert Birsel)