China sets up permanent COVID testing stations: report

China sets up permanent COVID testing stations: report

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China is setting up thousands of permanent PCR COVID-19 testing stations. 

Millions of residents in Shanghai remain confined to their homes and communities, even as the city has moved to ease restrictions for some. 

Reuters, citing vice-mayor Wu Qing, reported Friday that 9,000 have been completed in China’s largest city alone, with 5,000 already operational.

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Officials said the residential stations will allow residents to be tested within 15 minutes and that the new system would require people to have a negative PCR test before entering public spaces – though it remained unclear how recent the tests needed to be. 

While Shanghai has been subject to the nation’s “zero-COVID strategy,” Beijing authorities have resisted sweeping lockdown measures. 

A worker wearing a protective suit swabs a man’s throat for a COVID-19 test on the third consecutive day of mass coronavirus testing in Beijing, Thursday, May 5, 2022. Hong Kong on Thursday reopened beaches and pools in a relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions, while China’s capital Beijing began easing quarantine rules for arrivals from overseas. 

A worker wearing a protective suit swabs a man’s throat for a COVID-19 test on the third consecutive day of mass coronavirus testing in Beijing, Thursday, May 5, 2022. Hong Kong on Thursday reopened beaches and pools in a relaxation of COVID-19 restrictions, while China’s capital Beijing began easing quarantine rules for arrivals from overseas.  (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)

The city shut down subway stations and other travel routes this week and leaders announced Friday that all nonessential services in the Chaoyang district would close down. 

China’s capital is battling its own surge, with rounds of mass testing continuing for residents. 

People have been required to undergo three tests throughout the week and a negative test result within the previous 48 hours is necessary to enter most public spaces. 

However, Beijing said Thursday that it would relax quarantine rules mandating arrivals from overseas to quarantine for 21 days, with at least 14 of them at a hotel. 

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Now, visitors can spend just 10 days in isolation, followed by another week of home isolation.

Restaurants and bars have been limited to takeout and gyms are closed. 

Access to some major tourist sites has also been curbed, with destinations operating at only partial capacity and closing indoor exhibition halls. 

Reuters noted that Hangzhou, southwest of Shanghai, has also pledged to set up 10,000 permanent testing stations. 

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The Olympic Council of Asia said Friday that this year’s Asian Games are being postponed due to concerns about the omicron variant. 

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.