Authorities in China, after being overwhelmed in Wuhan, where coronavirus infections first burst into the world, have fine-tuned an emergency response for surprise cluster outbreaks.
Many subsequent waves of infection have emerged in China, a country of 1.4 billion people and nearly 40 times the size of the UK. Cases have cropped up across the country, as far apart as in the south along the border to Vietnam, and in the north near Russia.
Even in Beijing, the country’s capital – where social distancing and quarantine requirements have been the most stringent in order to protect the ruling Communist party elite – the coronavirus managed to spread rapidly and infect hundreds in June.
Each time, the Chinese state has rolled out the same programme. Health officials have rushed to test millions of people within days – asking the public to visit large outdoors spaces, such re-purposed stadiums, or by sending workers door-to-door to swab residents.