SHANGHAI (Reuters) – Chinese e-commerce giants Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and JD have each launched booking services for COVID-19 tests, the companies announced.
The services have been launched as China accelerates testing for the illness and the city of Wuhan, the initial epicentre of the outbreak, opens up from lockdown.
Users searching for “Coronavirus Nucleic Acid Test” in Taobao or Tmall, Alibaba’s two main e-commerce sites, are directed to a page offering appointments at nearby sites.
Prices depend on the city, with tests in Shanghai costing 180 yuan ($25.42) and tests in Beijing costing 258 yuan. They are available in nine cities but Alibaba intends to extend this.
JD.com, one of Alibaba’s main rivals in China, launched a similar booking platform last week for tests in Beijing.
On Saturday, the Beijing authorities ordered individuals leaving Wuhan and returning to residences in Beijing to take a nucleic acid test before their quarantine ends.
Several cities and provinces have also announced that coronavirus testing would be available to citizens on a voluntary basis, instead of only those required to be tested by the government because of their travel history.
Many other countries battling the coronavirus have faced a dire shortage of test kits in hospital facilities. Diagnostic companies inside and outside of China are attempting to ramp up research production of test products.
($1 = 7.0820 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Josh Horwitz in Shanghai and Roxanne Liu in Beijing; Additional reporting by the Shanghai Newsroom; Editing by Edmund Blair)