Complaints Pour In About Shanghai’s ‘Normalized’ Nucleic Acid Tests

After weeks of lockdown, the city of Shanghai is now gradually reopening. Although many residents were thrilled to roam the streets again on June 1st, there are still many restrictions in place.

One of the Covid rules in place is that all people accessing public transport, visiting markets, malls, parks, etc., need to show a negative nucleic acid (PCR) test result no older than 72 hours. For those who have returned to work, this means they have to do some 15 tests per month.

The measure is part of Shanghai’s “normalized” prevention and control, with the testing being referred to as “normalized nucleic acid testing” (常态化核酸检测) that should become part of people’s everyday lives for now.

On Thursday, many people shared photos and stories of massive queues for Shanghai’s nucleic acid booths, triggering online discussions on the city’s Covid testing problem.

One Weibo user wrote on Thursday night: “I lined up to do a test, I faced the risk of being in a group of people, but after half a day, I still haven’t received my test result!”

Another person wrote: “We just waited in line for over two hours for a self-paid nucleic acid test. There are just not enough nucleic acid test booths!” One commenter from Shanghai said he was already waiting over 26 hours for his test result to come out.

“At this very moment, there’s still a queue all around the corner for PCR testing,” one resident posted at 0:30 on Friday morning: “The people are going from one worry to the next.”

One Shanghai resident described the process of doing tests all the time as “torture”, saying: “Every day, I have to check if my nucleic acid report has not expired yet (..) I can’t work well because I have to check the testing time in the middle of my shift, and the testing is clashing with my working hours, it’s just too inconvenient.”

Shanghai authorities apologized at a June 2nd press conference for the delays people experienced in getting tested or getting their test results. Xia Kejia (夏科家), an official responsible for PCR screening in the city, said Shanghai had set up more than 10,000 permanent testing sites, and that current problems with closed booths and a lack of staff would soon be solved (#上海就核酸检测排长队致歉#).

“I’d support cancelling this kind of normalized testing. It’s a waste of manpower and resources,” one Weibo user writes, another person adding: “We just want to go back to work normally.”

Popular WeChat account News Brother also wrote about the long lines for PCR tests in Shanghai, saying that unexpectedly, it’s not the Bund that’s the city’s liveliest spot after the reopening – it’s the testing booths that have become the hottest place in town.

In a city of 25 million, where people need to go to work, want to visit a mall, take the bus, the PCR testing points will remain a hotspot as long as these strict guidelines are in place.

“A 180-minute wait from here”

Judging by the hundreds of comments coming in on Weibo about the testing procedures today, the majority of residents are not happy about the 72-hour PCR testing becoming a regular part of life.

“If you end the lockdown, just end the lockdown,” one Shanghai resident writes: “I’m dying just thinking of normalized testing in the middle of the summer heat..”

By Manya Koetse

Image via Weibo

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Complaints Pour In About Shanghai’s ‘Normalized’ Nucleic Acid Tests