Beijing’s Entire Population is Being Tested for COVID-19
China has taken a radical step forward in ensuring the new wave of Coronavirus infections doesn’t spread as fast or wide as the first wave.
On June 9th, Beijing officials declared that the city was free and clear of the coronavirus. Only one day later, a Beijing citizen was admitted to hospital with symptoms of the virus, breaking the city’s 56 day streak of no new infections according to The Guardian.
Since that day, the city has seen a wave of newly infected people, causing the government to take far stronger efforts to try and stop the virus from reaching the heights that it did only a few months ago.
On June 20th, The Deputy Leader of Infectious Disease Outbreak and Control for Beijing Zhang Qiang declared that Beijing would test every single citizen, rolling out half a million tests a day.
Testing centres have been given the staff and equipment to more than double their capacity for daily tests so that the city is able to match the target set by government officials.
Rolling Out Tests
In a statement issued by the Beijing Municipal Medical Security Bureau, the government has commissioned 24 companies to produce coronavirus test kits and is working with them to ensure the tests are produced as fast as possible, while also maintaining a high standard.
The government says that by working with companies directly and as a team, they can ensure that the tests make it into the hands of doctors and administered to patients at the lowest cost possible.
This means that wherever you go to have your coronavirus test in Beijing, the price will always be 12 rmb (equivalent to $1.70 USD).
Even at such a low price, the poorest of China’s citizens will find paying that price for every single member of their family too much to handle.
In response to this concern, the government is working to include coronavirus tests into the nationwide health insurance system.
Similar to the US, China has a health insurance system that both employers and employees pay into every month. Then when you’re sick or need surgery, you can swipe your insurance card and your balance is covered.
Unlike in the US though, the health insurance system hasn’t been privatised and is a state-run system.
Some are Skeptical
Rolling out a mandatory citywide test isn’t without its skeptics. Some believe that the government is wasting a lot of time and money by testing an enormous amount of people, most of whom haven’t been infected.
Others believe that it’s a scare tactic, and that the government wants everyone to remain afraid of a virus that they believe was eradicated months ago.
Within weeks the entire population of Beijing will have been tested for coronavirus (21 million people), which will set an enormous precedent for the rest of the world.
Once they’re finished, there is some talk about what will happen next with regard to the rest of the country.
The eye of the Chinese government is now moving away from its capital and onto other major cities around the country.
Policies are creeping back up to ensure that crowds of people aren’t gathering in too many numbers, and local officials are enforcing mask laws once again.
There are rumours that the massive test orders may be rolled out onto the entire country, with infection rate data being the indicator that will decide whether or not it happens.
China alone represents almost 20% of the world’s population, so if coronavirus testing really does roll out nationwide, it’ll be a united government effort unlike anything the world has ever seen.