- The Chinese city of Harbin is paying people who test positive for COVID-19 $1,500.
- There's a catch — one is only eligible for the reward if they come forward independently without needing to be contact traced.
- This is part of the city's drive to lure anyone displaying symptoms of the virus to get tested.
The northern Chinese city of Harbin is paying $1,570 to anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 — provided they show up independently without having to be contact traced.
This new plan by the city's government will reward those who actively come forward to get tested for COVID-19 when they display symptoms, per Chinese state-owned media, The Beijing News.
According to a city-wide notification on December 4 seen by Insider, the Harbin government is looking to reward only those who come forward unprompted.
"We advise residents to take note of news of where positive COVID-19 cases are surfacing. If you display COVID-19 symptoms like a fever, cough, sore throat, fatigue, loss of smell or taste, muscle aches, or diarrhea, do not self-medicate. Wear a mask and head to your nearest clinic, and tell us where you've traveled to and who you've come into contact with," read the notice.
"If you come forward independently after feeling symptoms and visit a medical institution to see a doctor and explain your circumstance, those who test positive for COVID-19 will be rewarded with 10,000 Chinese yuan," the notice said.
While this might, at first, seem like an astronomical sum for a city to put up for just one COVID-19 test, Harbin has consistently detected less than 10 cases per day over the last week.
On December 5, the city reported seven new coronavirus cases. However, these individuals are unlikely to receive a monetary reward because they were rounded up through routine testing and contact tracing.
While China's reported case numbers have been consistently low since its initial Wuhan outbreak, the country does not include patients who test positive for the virus but are asymptomatic in its official tally.
Smaller-scale outbreaks of COVID cases in the southwestern Yunnan province this April were met with aggressive mass-testing measures and immediate city-wide lockdowns for 72 hours. More recently, around 30,000 people found themselves trapped in Shanghai's Disneyland after one positive COVID-19 case was detected there, unable to leave until every visitor and employee had been tested.
China is presently attempting to suppress an outbreak of dozens of cases in Inner Mongolia, as well as COVID-19 clusters in Beijing and Shanghai. However, its reported COVID-19 cases remain low. According to China's National Health Commission, 61 cases were detected across 31 provinces on December 5, bringing the number of active cases in the country to 1,060.