City revokes requirement to pay for compulsory weekly nucleic acid test after public outcry
Published: May 29, 2022 08:27 PM Updated: May 29, 2022 08:22 PM
Residents from Guang’an city in Southwest China’s Sichuan Province take nucleic acid test on May 12, 2022. Photo: IC
Residents from Guang’an city in Southwest China’s Sichuan Province take nucleic acid test on May 12, 2022. Photo: IC
A city in Southwest China’s Sichuan revoked on Monday the requirement for residents to pay for themselves the compulsory weekly nucleic acid testing fee after the decision sparked controversy. The city said that residents can take the test at their will.

The epidemic prevention and control headquarters of Langzhong city with a population of 620,000 in Sichuan released a statement on Friday to announce the launch of regular nucleic acid testing starting May 30.

According to the statement, all the local 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, 3.5 yuan ($0.52) per person per test, paid by themselves. Tests for the students will be arranged at other times.

After this round of citywide nucleic acid testing, the local residents are required to take the regularized testing once a week, and pay for themselves. Those who fail to comply with the requirement and cause epidemic transmission will be held accountable for the consequences.

The regulation soon aroused public concerns with many doubting the necessity of such regular tests since there is no epidemic in the city, according to the Health Times under the People’s Daily.

According to a local resident surnamed Li, the requirement was regarded as a sheer waste of labor and money, as the place witnessed no outbreak.

A worker from the local health bureau in Langzhong confirmed with the Health Times on Sunday morning that the local government cannot afford the fees which are supposed to be paid by residents themselves.

After the public outcry, the epidemic prevention and control headquarters in Langzhong revised the regulation on Sunday, adjusting the citywide nucleic acid testing to noncompulsory.

Local residents are advocated to take the tests based on their needs and the situations of epidemic prevention and control.

Similar regulations were also rolled out on May 23 by Longxi county in Northwest China’s Gansu Province, which required a compulsory citywide once-a-week nucleic acid testing for all its residents, who also have to pay for the tests themselves. Those who fail to take the test regularly will be labeled with abnormal health codes.

The Health Times learned from the National Healthcare Security Administration last Thursday that the fees for regular nucleic acid tests should be paid by local governments.

Guo Yanhong, an official from the National Health Commission, said at a press conference on May 23 that regular nucleic acid testing is mainly required in provincial capitals with high import risks and cities with a population of 10 million. Besides, not all people are required to take the tests every two days and the frequency should be determined by the epidemic situations accordingly.

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 for entering public places and taking public transportation.

Global Times