There is an old saying in Chinese that every day should start with the seven necessities of “firewood, rice, oil, salt, sauce, vinegar and tea”. For many Chinese residents these days, there is now an eighth necessity: Covid-19 nucleic acid testing. Daily testing is part of the “new normal” under the country’s “dynamic zero” Covid-19 policy. Official guidelines require all major Chinese cities to set up testing booths “within a 15-minute walk” from any location to ensure testing is easily available to everyone. This means that thousands, if not tens of thousands, of testing booths are being added to each city. Depending on the location, a person must have a negative test result within 72 or 48 hours of entering subways, office buildings or even parks. Puzzled city residents now murmur sardonic observances about the situation. “The quality guarantee for my bread is seven days,” goes one common joke, “but my health guarantee is just two days.” This new normal in China is looking increasingly abnormal on the global stage. Repeated mass testing is not widely accepted in public health circles as a good way of handling the highly contagious Omicron variant. Sufficient vaccination, particularly for vulnerable groups, has proven to be a better way of minimising harm and deaths. Tencent’s depressed quarterly results show China’s tech sector growth set to recede Chinese officials have argued that the country must rely on mass nucleic acid testing because its vaccination rates are low, healthcare resources are unbalanced, and potentially more infectious or harmful variants could emerge. But the abnormality of these policies could become more conspicuous the longer they persist. Daily testing is causing much bigger disruptions to day-to-day life than other social control measures, including security checks at subway entrances or real-name registration for intercity public transport, as it covers nearly every city resident. While the testing itself disrupts daily routines, a positive result can lead to quarantines and travel restrictions, discouraging travel altogether and reducing consumer spending. Shenzhen, for instance, is the first major Chinese city to adopt regular testing after it instituted a seven-day lockdown. Many production activities have returned to normal, but it would be a lie to say that Shenzhen is “back to normal” as it was in the pre-Covid days. The more other countries start to open up and live with Covid-19, the more abnormal China’s policies will look. The costs of mass testing – while “free” for residents – is also set to erode the country’s healthcare fund and local fiscal coffers. Given all this, China may need to find a way out of its “new normal” for people to be able to resume living in a way they would actually consider normal.