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Long lines as Beijing expands mass COVID testing

(People wearing face masks to protect against the spread of the coronavirus line up for mass COVID-19 testing in a central district of Beijing, Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. Beijing has ordered fresh rounds of coronavirus testing for about 2 million people in the downtown area following new cases in the Chinese capital. AP Photo: Mark Schiefelbein)

By MARK SCHIEFELBEIN, BEIJING (AP):- Beijing has ordered more coronavirus tests for about 2 million people in its downtown area after new cases were reported in the Chinese capital.

The city health department said all residents of the Xicheng and Dongcheng districts are required to undergo testing on Friday and Saturday. Results are usually delivered by smartphone app within a few hours.

In one neighborhood in Dongcheng, several thousand people lined up in freezing temperatures around a corner and down several blocks, waiting to enter a building for testing.

They included a group of street sweepers who stood out in their high-visibility red and green uniforms from others wearing dark winter jackets. Everyone wore a mask.

Compulsory testing has been a key feature of China’s push to contain a new wave of virus outbreaks, and many shops, office buildings and residential compounds now require proof of a recent negative test carried on a cellphone app to gain entry.

Beijing has recorded just 19 new cases in the past week but rigorous tracing has prompted orders to test all those who might have come into contact with someone who is carrying the virus.

Recent confirmed cases have largely been in suburban areas, but some of those had traveled downtown before testing positive for the virus.

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