China: Local Communist Party ‘Punishes’ Officials over Virus Outbreak

TOPSHOT - Chinese police guard the entrance to the closed Xinfadi market in Beijing on June 13, 2020. - Eleven residential estates in south Beijing have been locked down due to a fresh cluster of coronavirus cases linked to the Xinfadi meat market, officials said on June 13. (Photo by …
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The Communist Party disciplinary committee of China’s Zhangjiajie city government “punished” 20 municipal officials as of Wednesday for allegedly failing to prevent Zhangjiajie’s latest Chinese coronavirus outbreak from spreading to several other cities and provinces, the state-run China Central Television (CCTV) reported.

The disciplinary committee issued a list on August 4 with names of nearly two dozen Zhangjiajie district officials, hospital management staff, and personnel connected to a July 22 concert in the city. Local Communist Party officials traced Zhangjiajie’s latest coronavirus cluster infection to the July 22 theater performance, which thousands of tourists attended. Most of the concert’s attendees subsequently left Zhangjiajie, a domestic tourist hotspot in southwestern Hunan province, for other parts of China and spread their infections nationwide.

Zhangjiajie’s Communist Party disciplinary committee punished six officials from the city’s Yongding district as of August 4 for failing to contain a local coronavirus outbreak within Yongding, according to CCTV. The committee fired one of the officials, Xu Xionghui, who served as the head of Yongding’s public health department.

“Xu was incompetent in supervising the implementation of epidemic prevention and control work of the district, and lacked effective and timely management in isolating infected patients,” an official statement by the disciplinary committee read.

“Deng Huabin, director of the emergency department at Zhangjiajie People’s Hospital, who was in charge of the overall nucleic acid testing at the hospital, has also been removed from his post for slack management which led to a chaotic gathering of people at the testing site and posed serious risks of cross-infection in the hospital,” according to the same statement.

Zhangjiajie government officials on August 1 ordered all residential communities in the city to observe strict stay-at-home orders as part of ongoing efforts to contain Zhangjiajie’s latest coronavirus epidemic.

Local transport officials canceled all outbound flights from Zhangjiajie on Sunday, 24 hours after setting up control checkpoints at all of the city’s outbound highways. Zhangjiajie on August 1 announced “no vehicles will be allowed on the roads except those used for epidemic control, transporting necessities, and ambulances and firefighting trucks,” the state-run Global Times reported.

Zhangjiajie’s coronavirus prevention and control center on Tuesday issued an edict banning all people in the city as of August 3 from leaving, including both residents and tourists.

Zhangjiajie’s government has implemented a total lockdown despite the city of 1.5 million residents recording just 19 new cases of the Chinese coronavirus since last week. Communist Party officials blame Zhangjiajie’s outbreak for spreading the Chinese coronavirus to at least five Chinese provinces outside Hunan and contributing to an ongoing nationwide coronavirus epidemic across China.

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