Chinese city rolls out mass Covid testing amid record heat wave

‘Forcing more than 10 million people to do Covid tests in such high temperatures is deplorable’

Maroosha Muzaffar
Thursday 25 August 2022 14:03 BST
Fish tested for Covid in China

Chongqing in China has begun mass testing its people for Covid-19 even as a massive heatwave grips the country, leading to blazing wildfires and a severe drought.

Since the first confirmed case on 3 August, Chongqing has reported nearly 150 cases. As many as 40 Covid-19 infections were reported on Wednesday alone.

“At present, Chongqing is facing uncertainty and a complicated situation in epidemic control,” Yang Lin, Chongqing government spokesperson, said at a news conference on Tuesday.

He said that on Wednesday, all people in the central areas, including permanent and temporary residents, migrant workers and foreign passport holders, will see their health codes on their mobile phones turn from green to orange.

The codes will return to green after they take a test if they are not ill. A green code is necessary to go about daily life in China.

The southwestern municipality of Chongqing has over 32 million people in 38 districts and counties, and there are about 10 million residing in the nine central districts of Yuzhong, Jiangbei, Yubei, Nan’an, Jiulongpo, Shapingba, Dadukou, Beibei and Banan.

Because of the extreme heat, authorities had announced that the tests would run from 6am to noon and later from 6pm to midnight.

They had added that home visits would be arranged for the elderly, the disabled, patients with chronic diseases and people with special needs.

People walk along the dry riverbed of the Jialing River, a tributary of the Yangtze, in Chongqing municipality on 20 August. The very landscape of Chongqing, has been transformed by China’s worst heat wave since modern record-keeping began

More than 3,800 temporary testing sites were set up across the central districts.

However, as temperatures in Chongqing soared past 40C on Wednesday, residents struggled to stay in long queues for the test. Local reports and updates from Chinese social media said that many passed out due to the heat.

They also pointed out that residents were dealing with a lot due to wildfires in the mountains and forests around the city as well as extended power cuts.

Chongqing resident Zeng Meng, 42, said a message on his health code app told him to take a Covid test around midnight on Wednesday, according to CNN.

“Forcing more than 10 million people to do Covid tests in such high temperatures is deplorable. This is neither scientific, reasonable, nor legal,” he said.

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