Covid-19 testing booths have become a permanent feature of China’s cityscapes, 1,000 days after the World Health Organization was informed of a “viral pneumonia” in Wuhan, central China. While many countries have returned to pre-pandemic life, PCR testing is the new normal in Chinese cities big and small. The WHO’s office in China was told about cases of pneumonia from an unknown cause in Wuhan on December 31, 2019. Since then, the virus now known as Sars-CoV-2 has evolved into the less virulent Omicron variant, and most of the world has moved on. But after Shanghai was locked down in April and May to contain the highly transmissible Omicron, regular testing for the virus became a fact of everyday life in China. Proof of a negative PCR test once every few days is required to guarantee access to public venues, places of work and mass transit – even when there is no outbreak. Testing booths, typically container-like structures erected in the middle of a pavement, are staffed by a few health workers in hazmat suits ready to take quick throat swabs. Some booths operate 24 hours a day. As of the end of May, about 15,000 booths had been set up in Shanghai, according to local media. Beijing had about 10,000, while Shenzhen had more than 7,000. The policy – intended to ensure fast detection and quarantine of the infected and close contacts – has been controversial and also a drain on public finances. “Doing a PCR test every two days, I really feel it’s a pure waste of resources,” posted one user of Weibo, China’s Twitter-like microblogging platform.