Officials in charge of Liwan district in southern China’s Guangzhou city apologized Monday for “unlocking 84 houses of residents” who were under state-mandated Chinese coronavirus quarantine at the time, the Global Times reported, noting that officials admitted the action demonstrated “violent” behavior.
Unidentified Liwan district “community workers” unlocked at least 84 homes of quarantine patients on July 10 without the homeowners’ permission. Liwan district ordered the mass break-ins as part of a search for close contacts of the quarantine patients, some of whom were suspected of “hiding” inside the vacant residences.
China Daily, which is owned by the Publicity Department of the Chinese Communist Party, detailed the incident on July 19, writing:
The health authority in Liwan had classified two apartment buildings in its Hailong subdistrict as high risk on July 8, after COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] cases had been found among residents in the Banghua Star apartment.
After repeated screening a day later, it was found that there were still some people identified as close contacts to the positive cases possibly remaining at home, some of whom tested positive for the novel coronavirus later that night.
To prevent the emergence of new cases as soon as possible, staff conducted searches for close contacts by unlocking a total of 84 households on the key floors of the buildings in the early hours of July 10.
Both China Daily and the Global Times, which is also published by China’s ruling Communist Party, reported that the break-ins were recorded on video.
“The Liwan district apologized for such ‘oversimplified and violent’ behavior. It said that an investigation team has been established to look into the matter and vowed to severely punish relevant people,” the Global Times relayed on July 18.
China Daily offered a slightly different English translation of the same message issued by Liwan district in Mandarin on July 19.
“Citing the workers’ practice as being ‘simple and crude’, the briefing said it had ignored and greatly hurt the feelings of local residents. Workers in charge of the Hailong subdistrict have apologized to the residents by admitting mistakes and promising compensation,” the newspaper relayed.
Chinese laws and health code regulations allow for government workers to carry out seemingly violative actions under the guise of anti-epidemic enforcement.
The Global Times noted this on Monday, writing:
According to China’s law on Prevention and Treatment of Infectious Diseases, when it comes to sewage, wastes, places and objects contaminated with the pathogens of infectious diseases, the units or individuals should carry out strict disinfection under the direction of the disease prevention and control institutions or in accordance with the sanitary requirements put forth by them; and in case of refusal to undergo disinfection, local health administration departments or disease prevention and control institutions should carry out compulsory disinfection.
China’s ruling Communist Party observes a “zero tolerance” policy toward the Chinese coronavirus that forces officials to lock down entire residential districts or cities for weeks at a time if they detect fresh cases of the disease. People who test positive for the disease during such outbreaks are typically transferred to state-run quarantine facilities, often against their will. This appears to have been the case in Guangzhou’s Liwan district earlier this month, as local residents were seemingly reluctant to comply with state-imposed quarantine protocol.