Thousands of Beijing residents have been queuing for hours in front of the city’s hospitals in the hopes of getting tested for Covid-19, after new cases of the virus were first reported on June 12. In the past week, at least 158 new cases have been identified in the capital city. On June 18, the Chinese government said that they have the epidemic under control but many people are terrified of a second wave of the virus that killed more than 4,000 people the first time round.

Two videos posted on YouTube and Twitter on June 14 show hundreds of people waiting in line in front of Youan Hospital, in the north of Beijing.

The first video shows the long line formed outside the hospital.

“Beijing Youan hospital. People line up for screening. The line has extended outside of the hospital. The line is about 500 metres long. I came here fairly early. I got a number. It takes about three minutes for them to screen one person. My number is 700+, so I’ll need to wait for four hours.”

More than 350,000 people have been screened for Covid-19 in Beijing since June 13, after new cases were reported in the city, which has a total population of 21 million.  


This video was filmed on June 16 in front of a hospital in the Dongdan, in eastern Beijing. You can hear a woman say, in Chinese, how surprised she is by the number of people waiting to get tested. 


The government has also set up large-scale testing centres, including in the Guanganmen and Xuanwu stadiums south of Beijing. People who visited the Xifandi market, where Covid-19 was detected, were called and asked to take a test. 

Lots of people line up to get tested for Covid-19 in the Guanganmen stadium, located to the south of Beijing, on June 14. .
 
“These are the people who went to Xinfadi market,” says the man who filmed the line of people waiting to get tested in Xuanwu stadium in Beijing.  The video was posted on Twitter on June 14. The Xinfadi market is thought to be the origin of more than 158 Covid-19 cases identified in Beijing this week. 
 
Some hospitals have set up a system where people can make appointments by phone so that they can avoid the crowd, but some many people have complained about the lack of social distancing in front of the hospital, like this Weibo user (Weibo is the equivalent to Twitter in China), who came to this hospital in Beijing to be tested.

"People are so close to each other!", posted this Twitter user on Weibo on June 15.  


 

"I got there at 9am and there were already more than 100 people waiting in line”

To avoid the spread of Covid-19, some of the more rural provinces have also been doubling down on testing. Xin Li travelled from Beijing to his home town in Henan, a province in central China in early June. After quarantining at home for 14 days, he went to a testing centre in the town of Huixan to be screened for the virus on June 16. 
 
When I got there at 9am, there were already more than 100 people in line. There weren’t enough testing kits. I went back the next day and took the test. Because I was coming back from Beijing, which is a high risk zone, I have to take another test on June 24. 




Article by Marie Genries