BEIJING ( Associated Press) – Authorities in southern China have apologized for raiding the homes of people sent to a hotel for quarantine, in a new example of tough coronavirus containment measures that have sparked unusual public protests.
In an effort to trace “close contacts” who may be hiding in homes and disinfecting homes, 84 homes were opened in Guangzhou City’s Liwan district of people sent to isolation centers, according to state media.
According to the Global Times, the doors were then sealed and new locks were installed.
The outlet noted that the district government apologized on Monday for such “violent and simple” behaviour. An investigation team was formed and “relevant persons” would be punished severely, the newspaper said.
The Chinese government has maintained its strict “zero COVID” policy despite the rising economic cost and impact on the lives of the population, which continues to undergo regular testing and quarantine while the rest of the world opens up to living with the disease.
Several cases have been registered on social media of police and health workers raiding houses in different parts of China in the name of COVID-19 measures. In some cases doors were broken and residents of homes were threatened with sanctions even if they tested negative for the virus. Authorities have required keys to lock down residents of apartment buildings where cases have been detected, put up steel barriers to prevent people from leaving their compounds, and welded iron bars to doors.
The Chinese Communist authorities exercise firm control over regional and local administration, the police, and the means of social control. Most citizens are accustomed to lack of privacy and restrictions on freedom of expression and assembly.
But stricter COVID-19 measures have tested that tolerance, especially in Shanghai, where a chaotic and abiding lockdown prompted complaints online and in person from people unable to meet basic needs like food or medical care .
Officials in Beijing have taken a softer approach, worried about unrest raging in the capital ahead of a crucial party congress this year in which President and party leader Xi Jinping is expected to win a third five-year term. The appointment will come against the backdrop of economic slowdown and high unemployment among college graduates and migrant workers.