As Xinhua News Agency reported on May 9, Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan said that all major cities in the country would erect Covid-19 testing booths within a 15-minute walking distance. Sun is in charge of the country’s pandemic response.
According to a breakdown by the China Digital Times, this infrastructure project could involve trillions of yuan of financial funds.
Having a testing booth within reach every 15 minutes walk means that the stalls must be installed 1km apart. Each stall would serve an area of 3 square kilometers. In Shanghai, such a booth would cover 60,000 to 100,000 people.
Based on the calculation of 3,000 persons each day from one testing point, a city with a population of 5 million could require about 1,700 stations. In order to have testing points available per 15-minutes walk to cover all the 500 million people in first- and second-tier cities across the country, 170,000 booths will have to be installed.
If all first- and second-tier cities in China implement normalized testing, Soochow Securities estimated that the monthly cost for it would be about 143.6 billion yuan or nearly 21 billion dollars. The annual cost shall reach 1.7 trillion yuan, more than 250 billion dollars.
That sum of money, as the Times provided, took Nanjing, Ningbo, Chengdu, and other cities a decade to make.
In 2021, no city in China achieved more than one trillion yuan in public revenue. Meanwhile, the country has 17 cities where revenues can exceed one hundred billion yuan.
Regarding spending on personnel, the Times estimated that the booths across all first-tier, new first-tier, and second-tier cities in China might need 1.4 million testers. As the population would be 510 million.
Hangzhou’s Xihu District recruited 100 nucleic acid sampling personnel and offered a high salary of 10,000 yuan (over 1,400 dollars) per month. If that wage rate is applied to all the 1.4 million testers, the annual spending for these workers could soar to 168 billion, more than 24 billion dollars.
According to a recruiting flier on the internet, a Shanghai laboratory is looking for laboratory technicians to help with testing with a daily salary of 1,500 yuan, 220 dollars. The job is not limited to academic qualifications.
Then, the testing stalls would also need some equipment, such as air conditioners, ventilation systems, filtration devices, temperature and air conditioning, and disinfection systems.
The Times said that the cheapest ones start at 10,000 yuan while the most expensive ones exceed 45,000 yuan. Taking 25,000 yuan as the average price, costs for 170,000 testing booths could amount to 4.25 billion yuan or about 625 million dollars.
At present, at least 17 cities make COVID-negative results mandatory for entering public places. That includes Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hangzhou, Dalian, Nanchang, and Suzhou. This also involves about 200 million people, or 14% of China’s total population.