China's annual college entrance exam, better known as the Gaokao, kicked off Monday morning with a record 10.78 million candidates signing up for perhaps the world's most grueling test.
This is also the biggest-ever collectively organized event since the coronavirus outbreak, witnessing millions of students in around 7,000 venues across the country. Last year, Gaokao was delayed by one month in most parts of the country.
Local governments at various levels have customized epidemic control measures to ensure the safety of students and the smooth progress of the exam, which is still deemed a fate-changing opportunity for many.
In the southern city of Guangzhou, where new cluster infections emerged recently, the test is being conducted under strict anti-epidemic measures.
More than 50,000 candidates and some 7,000 people related to the exam in Guangzhou had completed two rounds of nucleic acid testing as of Sunday, and all relevant staff members have been vaccinated.
The Guangzhou Eighth People's Hospital, where two senior high school students tested positive for COVID-19, has set up special rooms in the isolation ward for the students and installed high-definition surveillance cameras for real-time audio and video recording. The invigilators will monitor the exam from a designated area.
In the Golog Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture, which was hit by a 7.4 magnitude earthquake in late May, a total of 891 candidates will take the exam in tents as aftershocks are still active in the region.
Each tent measuring approximately 60 square meters in size can house 30 students, according to the prefecture's education bureau.
A total of 51,738 students signed up for Gaokao in Beijing this year. They will take the exam in 1,566 exam halls across 90 venues.
Beijing has made it mandatory for all frontline exam staff to be vaccinated, and a negative nucleic acid test within a week should be provided. Temperature screening, disinfection and ventilation will be strictly implemented during the exam.