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Over 8.8 million were withdrawn for COVID-19 testing in Qingdao, China

Chinese city of Qingdao punishes two officials over coronavirus cluster

A medical staff takes a swab from a woman as residents receive the Covid-19 test near the residential area in Qingdao in east China's Shandong province.

Authorities ordered all 9 million people in the city to be tested after discovering a total of 12 cases, including those asymptomatic, over the weekend, marking the first domestic dispatch to China in almost two months.

Qingdao emergedas new cluster of local infections as it had reported 12 new confirmed cases ofCOVID-19 since the virus re-emerged in the city over the weekend, said the local municipal health commission.

Authorities have not shared details of the other four, but said Thursday that all cases in the city are "closely linked" to the hospital.

A similar mass testing campaign has occurred since the previous outbreak. The Qingdao Ministry of Health said the test began with "close contacts, close contacts from those close contacts and more informal contacts", and then gradually expanded to include all city districts.

Qingdao is a major commercial harbour and industrial centre known for electronics and the country's most famous brewery, as well as the home of the Chinese navy's northern fleet.

The coastal city has reported 13 recent infections, majority linked to the Qingdao Chest Hospital, where infected travellers arriving from overseas had been treated in an isolation area.

The commission also reported 23 new asymptomatic cases, up from 18 a day earlier.

China reported 4,634 deaths out of 85,622 cases.

Deputy mayor Luan Xin said more than 9.9 million samples had been collected and 7.6 million results returned, adding that no new cases had been found.