Chinese Vice Premier Sun Chunlan expressed shame and warned medical institutions across the country treating Covid-19 patients not to turn away other patients, after multiple cases of residents in the Covid-hit city of Xi’an being denied entry to hospitals due to drastic lockdown measures, sparking a public outcry. The reaction came after a public uproar on the news of a woman suffering a miscarriage and a man dying from cardiac arrest as hospitals refused their admission because the validity of their most recent Covid-19 test result had expired. Since December 9, Xian, a city of 13 million in its 16th day of lockdown has recorded more than 1,900 locally transmitted Covid-19 cases.
Sun said she felt “very sad and deeply guilty” for the incident, which exposed the laxity and incompetence of local authorities in their disease control work. “It showed that outbreak prevention work had problems with not being sufficiently strict or down to earth. The lesson learned was deep,” she was quoted as saying by the local media. An investigation is being conducted into the difficulties people face in getting through to the emergency hotline, and measures have been taken to fix the problem, Sun added.
Amid the public uproar over the incident, Xi’an authorities issued a notice Friday, saying that local communities, emergency centers, and medical institutions should not refuse patients if their negative Covid-19 test result validity periods are over the generally required 48 hours. The government has fired medical staff linked to the case and handed out disciplinary punishment to two senior health officials in Xi’an, which has been in lockdown while it battles what one top disease expert called the country’s worst outbreak since Wuhan. The city’s health commission also apologized publicly Thursday.