Chinese city’s residents made to queue for Covid tests in heat above 40C

Residents of the south-western Chinese city of Chongqing have been queueing on the streets to be tested for Covid, despite extreme temperatures that have soared past 40C (104F) this week.

Photos posted on Chinese social media also showed health workers testing residents while wearing full hazmat suits in the heatwave. Other images showed that the tests were being carried out while bushfires raged in the background, prompting descriptions of the situation as “apocalyptic”.

The city of more than 31 million people reported eight new confirmed Covid cases on Friday. Authorities said that as of midnight on Thursday, Chongqing had had 105 cases.

<gu-island name="TweetBlockComponent" deferuntil="visible" props="{"element":{"_type":"model.dotcomrendering.pageElements.TweetBlockElement","html":"

The images coming out of #Chongqing are apocalyptic. Mass #coronavirus PCR tests being carried out as bushfires rage following months of heatwave with a record drought threatening crops and severely limiting much needed hydroelectricity. #China

&mdash; Stephen McDonell (@StephenMcDonell) August 26, 2022


Chongqing’s latest efforts to contain a fresh Covid outbreak has taken place as the city has been engulfed in a prolonged heatwave, blazing wildfires and a severe drought that has led to power outages.

More than 70 days of extreme temperatures and low rainfall have wreaked havoc along the basin of the Yangtze River, which supports more than 450 million people and a third of the country’s crops.

On Tuesday, a number of Chinese government agencies issued an urgent joint emergency notice, warning that the autumn harvest was under “severe threat”. The government also urged local authorities to ensure “every unit of water … be used carefully”.

Chongqing’s insistence on achieving zero Covid amid the scorching heat has drawn complaints on social media. On Thursday, many residents of Chongqing reported receiving an unexpected yellow health code, which meant they had to be tested for Covid in the hot weather.

I’ve been locked up at home for a week, every day Covid results were negative, and yesterday everyone had a pop-up window and the whole city’s people did nucleic acid tests. Today, I [suddenly] had a yellow health code at noon,” complained one user of the social media platform Weibo. A yellow health code means the user has to be tested again for Covid even if they have not been to a high-risk area in the past few days.

The sudden requirement led many to question whether the health management system was fit for purpose. “I really think that you are messing with the code. Do you have a brain?” questioned the Weibo user, adding that that this would mean he could not go out to buy food.

“My nucleic acid test results have been negative every day … There is no reason for this [sudden test requirement]. You give yellow codes to everyone around the area. Nobody then can eat, and we’ll have to starve to death. Is this what you want to see?”

Additional reporting by Xiaoqian Zhu and Reuters

The Guardian

Related posts

Leave a Comment