China implemented comprehensive large-scale nucleic acid-testing strategies to sustain the containment of Covid-19. According to the Chinese Medical Insurance Bureau, local governments are responsible for the cost. Amid the mass testing cost escalating pressure on authorities’ budgets, some areas recently require residents to carry out the test at their own expense, and this has caused a public outcry.
On Friday, Langzhong City, Sichuan Province, announced a regular nucleic acid testing starting May 30. All residents, except for the students of all grades, have to take a nucleic acid test at the designated sampling venues on Monday and Tuesday, with the testing fees of 3.5 yuan (0.52 dollars) per person per test, paid by themselves. After this round, residents must take the regularized testing once a week, also at their cost. Those who fail to comply with the requirement and cause transmission of the virus will be held accountable for the consequences.
Similarly, on May 23, Longxi county in Northwest China’s Gansu Province required a compulsory citywide weekly nucleic acid testing for all its residents, who must pay for the tests themselves. Those who fail to take the test regularly will be labeled with abnormal health codes.
The regulation soon aroused public concerns, with many doubting the necessity of such regular tests since there was no epidemic in the city. They believe this is a sheer waste of labor and money.
After the public outcry, the epidemic prevention and control headquarters in Langzhong revised the regulation on Sunday, adjusting the citywide nucleic acid testing to non compulsory.
The Chinese government lowered the Nucleic acid testing fee significantly over the past years from 120 yuan (18 dollars) to 26 yuan (3.7 dollars) in May. This is expected to drop to 16 yuan (2.4 dollars) for a single and 5 yuan (0.75 dollars) for a group of 10 in June.
In 2021, about 900 million people were living in urban regions and about 500 million in rural China. The total testing fee for the population poses a huge burden on the government budget, which was already deeply indebted at 32.3 trillion yuan (4.8 trillion dollars) at the end of April this year.
According to media reports, regulations for normalized nucleic acid testing have been rolled out in multiple cities, including Shanghai, Hangzhou in East China’s Zhejiang Province, and Shenzhen and Zhuhai in South China’s Guangdong Province, with many requiring negative test results obtained within 48 or 72 hours before entering public places and using public transport.