The distressing incident was detailed in a post posted to social media by the woman’s niece on January 1.
Residents line up to undergo nucleic acid tests for the Covid-19 coronavirus in Xi’an, north China’s Shaanxi province, January 4, 2022. Photo: AFP
Chinese officials said on Thursday they punished authorities after images went viral of an eight-month-pregnant woman miscarrying in the locked city of Xi’an when a hospital refused entry without testing. Covid.
The city of 13 million inhabitants has been subject to strict home containment for two weeks to eradicate an epidemic, in accordance with Beijing’s strict “zero Covid” strategy.
The distressing incident was detailed in a post posted to social media by the woman’s niece on January 1, which included photos and video of the woman sitting on a plastic stool outside the hospital surrounded of a pool of blood.
The post was later deleted, but not before it garnered hundreds of millions of views and sparked widespread anger online at the hardships residents of Xi’an faced.
The city government said in a statement Thursday that the incident at the Xi’an Gaoxin hospital had caused “widespread concern and caused a detrimental social impact” and that the local health unit was investigating.
The director general of the hospital was suspended and the “managers” of the outpatient department were dismissed from their posts, he said.
The hospital was also ordered to “apologize to the public”.
Posted on the city government’s official WeChat account, the statement garnered nearly 600 million views within hours of publication, illustrating the huge interest the case has generated in China.
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According to the January 1 post that went viral on the Twitter-like Weibo platform, staff refused to admit the heavily pregnant woman for two hours because she had not had a negative Covid test in the past 48 time.
Her niece wrote that her negative test result expired a few hours earlier.
AFP could not verify the mail and calls to the hospital went unanswered.
Officials told reporters on Wednesday that Xi’an was opening “green channels” to provide quick access to medical services to certain groups – such as pregnant women and patients with serious illnesses – without referring to the case.
The promise came as another woman from Xi’an said her father died on Monday after several hospitals refused to treat his heart disease “due to pandemic rules.”
In a social media post Thursday that has been viewed over 500 million times, she recounted driving for more than eight hours in search of a hospital as her father complained of severe chest pain.
After her final admission, “the doctor said the delay was too long,” she wrote.
It was not clear why hospitals had refused to admit the 61-year-old man.
The reports come after residents of Xi’an complained of limited access to food and essentials during the lockdown. The local government has promised to deliver supplies to those in need, but admitted some logistical issues.
Coronavirus cases in China remain very low by international standards. But in recent weeks, infections have reached a record high since March 2020.
There were 189 cases reported Thursday, including 63 in Xi’an.
Those who have failed to prevent virus outbreaks in China are often fired or punished.