BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) – China has fired chief doctors after a pregnant woman lost her baby outside a hospital that denied her entry due to Covid-19 checks, as officials in the central city of Xi’an are under close scrutiny for their strict lockdown measures.
The woman, who was eight months pregnant, was turned away from Gaoxin hospital on January 1 because her Covid-19 test had expired four hours, according to an article published on Tuesday by someone claiming to be the woman’s niece .
A video posted the same day, showing what appeared to be a bleeding woman on the sidewalk outside a Gaoxin District hospital in Xi’an, became a trending topic on a microblogging platform.
Two hospital department heads were fired and a general manager suspended, the Xi’an government said in a statement on Thursday, January 6.
An investigation that ended Wednesday determined the incident was a “negligent accident,” the statement said, and ordered the hospital to compensate and apologize to the woman.
The head of the city’s health commission, Liu Shunzhi, also received a warning from the Communist Party for malpractice in emergency treatment.
Xi’an is currently grappling with the country’s worst Covid-19 outbreak since the start of the pandemic, having reported more than 1,700 cases in one month.
The lockdown has banned its more than 13 million residents from leaving their homes for no particular reason, triggering shortages of food and medical care.
This has led to social media posts criticizing the government – a rarity in the country.
Two lower-level officials have already been sacked in Xi’an to “strengthen the prevention and control of the epidemic,” the government said on Monday.
Earlier this week, the health code system that strictly controls the movement of people crashed, leading to the suspension of the head of the local big data bureau, according to a local Communist Party organ.
China is one of the very few countries to practice a zero tolerance Covid-19 strategy that relies on strict border controls, extensive testing and lockdowns to bring infections down to zero.
While the Xi’an outbreak is of the Delta variant, the more transmissible Omicron strain that is currently sowing the world poses an additional challenge to this approach.
Mainland China has yet to report a community spread of Omicron.