Under the “zero-COVID” policy, PCR tests continue in various parts of China, causing a lot of financial pressure on local governments.
In a new sign of a financial crunch among Chinese local governments, a COVID testing agency in Henan Province revealed that its operation was affected because it was “not getting any more money” from the provincial government.
Sing Tao Daily reported that the testing agency in Xuchang City, Henan, announced that it would stop receiving COVID test samples from November 11 because the local government wasn’t paying on time.
Staff from the Xuchang Municipal Finance Bureau have confirmed the information to the media, and said the city’s government is discussing how to deal with it.
According to the announcement, the testing agency named Boao Runkang Medical Laboratory has been doing COVID testing in the city since January 2021.
But due to the cost of the PCR tests, various districts and counties have gradually stopped paying the lab, resulting in increased pressure on its operation. The agency was left with no other option but to stop receiving COVID testing samples.
Because many local governments are experiencing fiscal deficits this year, some experts believe that they can no longer afford large-scale COVID testing.
Some cities and counties in China no longer do free COVID testing.
According to SixthTone, the cities include Longnan in Gansu province, Guiyang in Guizhou province, Yueyang in Hunan province, Yibin in Sichuan province, and Huizhou in Guangdong province.
These places have now passed on the cost of COVID-19 tests to individuals after providing free tests over the past few months.
Local media outlet Yicai reported that at least seven COVID pandemic departments have been charging for PCR tests and asking people to test voluntarily since the beginning of November.
Netizen complained that they understand that mass testing increases the financial burden on the government, but how is it ‘voluntary’ when they can’t go anywhere without a PCR negative result.
According to public affairs commentator Xu Shaolin, because many local governments have erected kiosks across the country in recent months and deployed thousands of personnel in hazmat suits to do the testing, their coffers have been strained.