Children in the Chinese capital must now show a negative COVID test to go to a park

beijing – As much of the world tries to get back to something resembling normal, the draconian coronavirus control measures imposed under China’s so-called “dynamic zero-COVID” policy only seem to be getting better. extend more broadly to all aspects of daily life. Now even children looking to play outside in Beijing must prove they are virus-free.

An announcement posted online Tuesday by the government agency that manages Beijing’s public parks said children over the age of three would now have to provide negative PCR test results within the last 72 hours to use playgrounds. Adults have long faced similar requirements to use parks, but especially with Beijing’s kindergartens closed since late April, the new restriction will be a headache for many parents.

Virus outbreak in China
Children ride a cart in a public park in Beijing on June 3, 2022. The Chinese capital has reopened parks, shopping malls and other places as a COVID-19 outbreak subsides, but under According to an edict issued by local authorities on June 21, children ages 3 and older must show a negative recent COVID test result to enter public parks in Beijing, just like their parents.

Mark Schiefelbein/AP

In major cities in mainland China, such as Beijing and Shanghai, regular COVID testing has become part of daily life. The “72-hour negative test result” is required not just to enter parks, but to use any enclosed, shared space – everything from cinemas to supermarkets and office buildings. Nobody can even go to work without a new test.

Nationally recognized COVID test results are stored on an official smartphone app for display to safety officials. Seniors and others without access to modern smartphones must present a valid national ID and then face additional verification measures before entering parks, or just about anything else.

Global financial services group Nomura has estimated that 814 million people in China – more than double the total US population – need to be tested regularly just to go about their daily lives.

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Frequent, localized campaigns of mass testing have been deployed as soon as outbreaks arise to identify and isolate cases, but the government is now grappling with the sustainability of this tactic.

The National Medical Insurance Fund regulator has asked local governments to fund their own “standardised mass screening”, instead of spending money that is supposed to be earmarked for other purposes.

Virus outbreak in China
Residents get swabbed during COVID-19 mass testing in Beijing’s Chaoyang district on Tuesday, June 14, 2022. Authorities ordered another three-day round of mass testing for residents of Chaoyang district following the detection of hundreds of coronavirus cases linked to a nightclub.

Andy Wong/AP

With thousands of mobile testing sites now dotting Chinese cities, there are also growing concerns about the environmental impact of the mass testing approach.

“The considerable amount of routinely generated medical waste [is] on a scale virtually unprecedented in human history,” Li Yifei, an environmental scientist at New York University in Shanghai, told French news agency AFP recently.

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Post expires at 8:19pm on Sunday July 3rd, 2022