A Beijing man is under criminal investigation after he skipped out on mandated home isolation, prompting authorities to send his more than 5,000 neighbors into home or government quarantine. The actions by the man, who later tested positive, come as the Chinese capital and Shanghai begin to ease restrictions.
Officials yesterday said the man, in his early 40s, had been told on Monday last week to isolate at home after he entered a shopping plaza deemed a risk area. They alleged that during his period of isolation he “went out many times, and moved in the community, risking the spread of the epidemic,” before he and his wife tested positive five days later.
In response, authorities ordered 258 people who lived in his building to go to a government quarantine center, and the more than 5,000 others who lived in the residential community to stay at home.
China has imposed harsh curbs on its population as it works to eliminate outbreaks of the highly transmissible Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2. China’s “zero COVID” policy has come under criticism for its significant negative impact on the economy and people, particularly in Shanghai, but Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) has doubled down on demands that it continue, and succeed.
The strict measures have sparked widespread frustration and exhaustion among residents, but with reported case numbers now dropping and restrictions beginning to ease, online people reacted angrily to the actions of the Beijing man.
“It’s been two days since it’s been cleared, what is this man doing? Doesn’t he want to clear the epidemic in Beijing? Does he have to come out and harm people when the situation is almost stable?” one commenter said.
“The community and the patient each share 50 percent responsibility, as the community did not install a door magnetic alarm... and there was a management responsibility which the community should shoulder,” another said.
On Sunday, authorities reported 122 new community cases across the country, outside quarantine settings and including 102 asymptomatic carriers.
In Beijing just 12 locally transmitted cases were reported on Sunday, and libraries, museums, theaters and gyms were allowed to reopen in areas where there had been none for at least seven days.
Beijing authorities had sought to avoid a mass lockdown, but instead imposed travel curbs, enforced working from home in some districts, closed public venues, and conducted targeted lockdowns of individual buildings and areas.
In Shanghai, a months-long lockdown is set to end tomorrow, and the government has announced a swathe of economic stimulus measures designed to address damage.
At an unprecedented meeting with more than 10,000 officials last week, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) warned the economy was at a “critical point” and that there would be dire consequences if officials did not act swiftly, and balanced COVID-19 controls with economic growth.
Several regions have established “routinized” testing regimes requiring all residents to get a negative polymerase chain reaction result every two or three days to move about with more freedom.
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