TAIPEI, Taiwan – A nighttime bus accident that killed 27 people in southwest China this week has sparked an online storm of outrage over the country’s cruelty. Strict COVID-19 Policies.
The initial police report did not say who the passengers were and where they were heading, but it later turned out that they were heading to a quarantine site outside their city of Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou Province.
The bus, carrying 47 passengers, crashed at about 2:40 a.m. Sunday. City officials announced many hours later that the passengers were under “medical observation,” confirming reports that they had been taken into quarantine.
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Following the public outcry, Guiyang fired three officials in charge of Yunyan District, where residents were arrested, the provincial government said Monday. Vice Mayor of Guiyang apologized at a press conference, bowed and observed a minute’s silence.
Online, many questioned the rationale behind moving people out of Guiyang, accusing the government of moving them so the city wouldn’t report any new cases.
“Will this ever end? There are all kinds of epidemic prevention cases every day, creating unnecessary panic and making people nervous,” wrote one of the people in the top searches (on social media). People to quarantine, car after car?”
Guiyang officials announced that the city will investigate “Community Zero COVID“By Monday, a day after the accident.
The phrase means that new infections are only found among people who are already under observation – such as those in a central quarantine facility or who are in close contact with existing patients – so the virus is no longer circulating in the community.
China has managed the epidemic through a series of measures known as “zero virus” or “zero COVID”, which are maintained through strict lockdowns and mass testing.
This approach saved lives before vaccines were widely available, as people refrained from public gatherings and regularly wore masks. However, as other countries have opened up and loosened some of the more difficult restrictions, China has stuck with it. COVID-free strategy.
While China has reduced quarantine time for overseas arrivals and said it will start issuing student visas, the policy remains strict at home. Officials are concerned about the potential death toll and the impact of any relief on the country’s overstretched medical system.
Zero COVID has also become a political issue, and at one point many Chinese celebrated it as an indication of their country’s superiority over the United States, which has caused more than a million COVID deaths.
Chinese President Xi Jinping referred to China’s approach as a “great strategic success” and evidence of the “important advantages” of its political system over Western liberal democracies.
However, even as other countries have opened up, the human costs of China’s epidemiological approach have increased.
Earlier this year in Shanghai, desperate residents complained about not being able to get medicines or even groceries during the city’s two-month lockdown, while some died in hospitals due to a lack of medical care as the city restricted movement. Last week, residents in western Xinjiang said they were starving under a lockdown that has lasted more than 40 days.
According to FreeWeibo, a website that tracks censored posts on the popular social media platform, three of the top 10 searches on Weibo are related to the bus accident.
Many focused on the bus photos shared by social media users. One of the pictures showed the bus after it was recovered from the accident site. Its roof is shattered and parts are missing. Another photograph allegedly showed the driver in a full white protective suit.
Online users wondered how a driver could properly see when his face was covered, and why he was driving so late at night. Many comments have been blocked but some who have expressed dissatisfaction with the current approach to the pandemic remain.
“I hope he will pay the price for such pain to change faster, but if it is possible, I do not want to pay such a high price for such a change,” said the comment that got the most likes on an online report about the incident by state broadcaster CCTV. “Condolences.”
A bus passenger said the entire building had been moved to central quarantine, according to a report by Caixin, a business news outlet. However, her apartment building has not reported a single case, according to a friend who shared their text conversation with Caixin.
He quoted another popular comment, for example, that said, “These human souls are like straw.”
On Tuesday, Guizhou reported 41 new cases of COVID-19 in the entire province. The county has been on high alert for the past few weeks after one case was discovered at the end of August. It has closed its capital city, using a nice “quiet period” to describe the move, which means that people are not allowed to leave their homes.
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