The Chinese province of Henan has instructed its nearly 100 million people to test a covid every two days, an unprecedented move as the country struggles with omicron-fueled waves.
China has remained steadfast in its zero-cove policy, imposing strict lockdowns and movement restrictions in several cities, and even transitioning to coronaviruses in most parts of the world.
Economic engine sanctions, including orders to stay at home in Shanghai and crimping restrictions across Beijing, have caused a heavy economic loss.
To avoid similar city-wide lockdowns, local governments are conducting high-frequency tests to quickly and potentially dismantle clusters without instructing the entire population to stay indoors.
According to an article posted on the local government website on Sunday, “Residents of (Henan) Province and other workers there should complete a sample of nucleic acid at least once every 48 hours.”
Tests will begin in Zhenzhou, the provincial capital of Henan, before the end of May, authorities said, according to reports, to help quickly “identify potential risks”.
Residents who do not comply will have difficulty scanning the codes required to enter public places or take transportation, the report added.
Other provincial capitals – such as Shijiazhuang in the northern province of Hebei – have taken similar measures, with Shijiazhuang saying it will begin weekly covid tests on Monday for its 11 million people.
Analysts warn that frequent mass checks already come at a high price for a weak economy.
Nomura analysts said in a report this month that if similar orders were to be extended to the whole of mainland China, it could cost between 0.9 percent and 2.3 percent of China’s gross domestic product.
The main business center, Shanghai, has been closed for almost two months, cutting off supply chains, while the Chinese capital, Beijing, has banned eating and ordered millions of people to work from home.
Retail sales and factory output fell to their lowest levels in nearly two months last month, reflecting the results of China’s zero-quad policy.
(Except for the title, this story was not edited by NDTV staff and was published from a syndicated feed.)