Hospitals open longer to meet surging demand for nucleic acid tests

Zhu Yuting
Push for testsdriven by new local COVID-19 case and upgrade to medium-risk of Pudong residential complex, hospital head says.
Zhu Yuting

A surge in demand for people wanting to take a nucleic acid test has caused local medical institutions to extend their opening times and the service in one hospital is even available up to 24 hours.

The increase in nucleic acid tests has been stimulated since Shanghai confirmed a new local COVID-19 case on August 2 and upgraded a residential complex in the Pudong New Area to medium risk, said Zhao Zhenyu, an official of Shanghai Yueyang Hospital of Integrated Traditional Chinese and Western Medicine.

Since the outbreak of the Delta variant in Nanjing and Yangzhou, neighboring Jiangsu Province, and other places in the country, Shanghai has seen a sharp increase in the number of people seeking a test.

The average number of tests in Shanghai has reached more than 300,000 per day, about three times higher than before the latest outbreak, according to health authorities.

The city has strengthened COVID-19 prevention and control measures on people coming from domestic high- and medium-risk areas.

"At present, no matter whether you return to Shanghai from outside or head to other places from Shanghai, you are mostly required to provide a negative nucleic acid test result," Zhao said.

"Thus the number of people coming to our hospital for a test has reached over 1,000 per day, compared with 500-600 per day previously."

Yueyang Hospital is the only one in the city that currently provides a 24-hour nucleic acid testing service.

"Residents who come for a test can pay the fee on the self-service machine and do a test by showing the receipt. There is no need to make an appointment online in advance," Zhao said.

People can check their test results after four to six hours on the hospital's official WeChat account or later on the Health Cloud app, Zhao added.

The hospital also provides an English version of the test result for expats or people who need to travel abroad.

Many other hospitals in the city have extended their operating times for nucleic acid tests.

Shanghai Tongren Hospital, near Hongqiao International Airport and Hongqiao traffic hub, has had a surge in nucleic acid tests since July 26. It  has added manpower and extended daily times to 10pm, including operating on Sundays.

There are 156 facilities offering nucleic acid testing services in the city, with a daily capacity of nearly 800,000 cases, said Wu Jinglei, director of Shanghai Health Commission.

Residents can check the operating times, addresses and booking numbers of testing facilities through the Suishenban app, Shanghai's official public service platform. This app includes travel history tracking, local health code and other services.

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