BEIJING — Authorities in southern China have apologized for breaking into the homes of people who were taken to a quarantine hotel in the latest example of heavy-handed virus prevention measures that sparked a rare public backlash. Is.
State media said 84 homes in an apartment complex in Guangzhou city’s Liwan district were opened in an effort to find any “close contacts” hiding inside and disinfect the premises.
The Global Times newspaper reported that the doors were later sealed and new locks were installed.
The paper said the Liwan district government apologized on Monday for such “over-simplistic and violent” behaviour. An inquiry has been launched and “relevant people” will be severely punished, it said.
China’s leadership has maintained its hard-line “zero-COVID” policy despite the rising economic cost and disruption to the lives of citizens, who subject themselves to regular testing and quarantine while the rest of the world opens up to live. with disease.
Several cases of police and health workers entering homes around China have been reported on social media in the name of anti-COVID-19 measures. In some, doors have been broken down and residents have threatened punishment, even if they have tested negative for the virus. Authorities have called for keys to be locked in residents of apartment buildings where cases have been detected, steel barriers to prevent their compounds from leaving, and iron bars welded to the doors.
Communist leaders of China exercise tight control over the levers of government, police and social control. Most citizens suffer from lack of privacy and restrictions on the right to freedom of expression and assembly.
However, strict anti-COVID-19 measures have tested that tolerance, especially in Shanghai, where a brutal and often chaotic lockdown led to protests online and people unable to access food, health care and basic necessities. among the people.
Officials in Beijing have taken a polite approach to fueling unrest in the capital ahead of a major party congress later this year in which President and party leader Xi Jinping is expected to receive a third five-year term. Which is characterized by slow economic growth and a high level of economic growth. Unemployment among college graduates and migrant workers. A requirement that only vaccinated people can enter public places was swiftly rescinded last week after city residents condemned it, declared without warning and unfair to those in need. who had not taken his shots.
“Zero-Covid” has been justified as necessary to avoid widespread outbreaks among populations that have relatively low exposure and low natural immunity to the virus. Although China’s vaccination rate is around 90%, it is significantly lower in the elderly, while questions have been raised about the efficacy of China’s domestically produced vaccines.
Although China’s Fosun Pharma reached an agreement to distribute and eventually manufacture an mRNA vaccine made by Pfizer and BioNTech, it was still authorized for use by separate authorities in Hong Kong and Macao in mainland China. Not approved for use in
Studies have consistently shown that vaccination with mRNA vaccines provides the best protection against hospitalization and death from COVID-19. Chinese vaccines made with older techniques proved to be quite effective against the original strain of the virus, but far less than the more recent variants.
Now health experts say delays in approving mRNA vaccines – the result of putting politics and national pride above public health – could lead to avoidable coronavirus deaths and profound economic damage.
China’s national borders remain largely closed and although domestic tourism has boomed, travel across the country is subject to a series of rules, with frequent quarantine restrictions in place.
In a recent incident, nearly 2,000 visitors to the southern tourist center of Beihai were forced to prolong their stay and barred from leaving after more than 500 cases were found.
The local government was struggling to find hotel rooms for those who were already ready to return home, while hotels and airlines were providing refunds for those who had booked holidays in the city that had to be canceled. Had to do
China regulates travel and access to public places through a health code app on citizens’ smartphones that must be updated with regular testing. The app tracks an individual’s activities in a form of contact tracing, allowing further enforcement of public surveillance.
Despite the relatively low rate of infection, the measures remain in place. The National Health Commission announced on Tuesday that just 699 new cases of domestic transmission were detected in the past 24 hours, most of them asymptomatic.
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