Millions in China’s Chongqing wait in line for Covid tests amid extreme heat

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In the midst of a record heat wave, the Chinese city of Chongqing has rolled out mass Covid testing in its central area, leaving millions of its residents to endure hours-long exposure to the sun.

The southwestern mega city’s strict zero-covid regulations to stop an outbreak are the latest hardship for citizens already reeling from a crippling heat wave, a severe drought and blazing wildfires, CNN reported.

Authorities ordered more than 10 million people in the city’s central urban districts to undergo mandatory Covid tests on Wednesday when the highest temperature in Chongqing soared past 40 degrees Celsius.

On Wednesday, Chongqing reported 40 Covid-19 infections, bringing the total to 146 cases since mid-August.

More than 3,800 temporary testing sites were set up across the central districts.

According to CNN, photos posted on Chinese social networks showed people waiting in long lines in front of the testing sites with many leaving in the scorching heat.

In the video, hundreds of people were waiting in line for Covid tests, most wearing face masks and some fanning themselves to relieve the heat. In the background, plumes of smoke from wildfires rise above the pale-orange skyline, CNN reported.

To ensure residents in the central districts comply with the testing mandate, authorities turned the health codes on everyone’s mobile phones to orange. The codes will turn green only after they complete the Covid tests.

According to authorities, residents who have not been tested will not be allowed to attend gatherings, meetings or business activities, nor can they enter crowded, enclosed public spaces.

Chongqing resident Zeng Meng, 42, said a message on his health code app told him to take a Covid test around midnight on Wednesday, CNN reported.

“Forcing more than 10 million people to do Covid tests in such high temperatures is deplorable,” he said. “This is neither scientific, reasonable, nor legal,” he added.

According to CNN, a green code is a prerequisite for going about daily life in China, where freedom of movement is dictated by a color-code system imposed by the government to control the spread of the virus.

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