China removes at least five officials from posts amid resurgence of COVID-19 cases
Published: May 17, 2021 01:09 PM
A medical worker collects a swab sample from a child for nucleic acid testing at a hospital in Feixi County of east China' Anhui Province, May 15, 2021.(Photo:Xinhua)

A medical worker collects a swab sample from a child for nucleic acid testing at a hospital in Feixi County of east China' Anhui Province, May 15, 2021.(Photo:Xinhua)

China is tackling a resurgence of COVID-19 cases, with local governments taking vigorous measures by removing at least five Chinese officials from Northeast China’s Liaoning and East China’s Anhui provinces from their posts and issuing warnings to dozens of other officials for their dereliction of duty and malpractice in dealing with fever patients. 

The latest outbreaks in the two provinces reported at least 16 confirmed and 13 asymptomatic carriers by Sunday, exposing loopholes and malpractice at the grassroots level, especially among medical institutions and governmental supervision authorities, observers said. 

The latest notice issued by the Liaoning provincial anti-epidemic leading group late Sunday said three senior officials from the city of Yingkou had been removed, including the deputy head of Bayuquan district, and two other officials from local health systems in the district. 

Another 12 officials from the province were given warnings, including the deputy head of the Liaoning provincial health commission, according to the notice. 

A private clinic in Bayuquan district of Yingkou, which was linked to at least four confirmed COVID-19 patients, were ordered to suspend operations, while the professional certificate of a doctor surnamed Li was revoked. A patient confirmed to have COVID-19 in Anhui Province surnamed Lü was put on a drip four times at Li’s clinic, but the doctor failed to report the case to higher health authorities. 

To prevent cross-infection and the spread of the disease, the Bayuquan district has temporarily closed all private clinics starting from Sunday.

Prior to Yingkou’s notice being issued, the city of Lu’an in Anhui removed two local health authority officials from their posts on Sunday. 

The city anti-epidemic leading group also suspended operations of two medical institutions and revoked the relevant doctors’ professional medical certificates,the local health commission announced. 

A doctor surnamed Ou who received a fever patient later confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 was handed to judicial organs to face punishment for his illegal medical practice. 

In the wake of the resurgence, the city of Lu’an immediately launched a campaign last week to determine if there were more clinics that had privately received fever patients, and found that four other medical institutions had engaged in this malpractice. These four institutions were ordered to suspend operations. 

As early as June last year, the State Council’s joint prevention and control mechanism comprehensive team issued a notice clearly requesting that township hospitals, clinics and other grassroots medical and health institutions implement the first consultation responsibility system. This means they have to register patients with fever and report to the appropriate location within one hour.

Medical institutions have to register patients with fever symptoms and give them nucleic acid tests and regular blood tests. Small clinics that cannot provide nucleic acid tests should not receive fever patients.

Observers said if clinics and medical institutions from Liaoning and Anhui had followed these rules, this wave of cases could have been contained at an early stage. The previous wave of cases occurred in Shijiazhuang, North China’s Hebei Province, and was also related to clinics receiving fever patients.