District govt in S.China's Guangzhou apologizes for unlocking 84 houses of residents under collective quarantine
Published: Jul 18, 2022 12:05 PM
Screenshot of online video

Screenshot of online video

The district government of Guangzhou's Liwan on Monday apologized for unlocking 84 houses of residents who were under hotel quarantine. The district government said the move was to screen hidden close contacts, but admitted the action was violent and disregarded residents' feelings. The local government agreed to compensate the residents.

According to the district government's notice, there were residents in Liwan who tested positive for COVID-19 on July 8, then residents from the same buildings of those confirmed cases were transferred for a collective quarantine center. Later, some close contacts were found hiding in their houses, and some of them tested positive for the virus.

On July 10, the street grassroots officials, community workers unlocked 84 houses in those buildings, checked inside the house and later sealed their doors. The whole process was caught on video. The district government said they installed new locks for the residents.

The government's response came after netizens exposed online that doors of quarantined residents in those buildings were broken, and sparked a public debate. When a reporter from Tianmu news, a Zhejiang-based news outlet, called the building management office, he was told the locks were broken to disinfect and screen hidden residents.

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.

Liwan's case marks a rare case that challenges China's human-centered, and precise approach in preventing COVID-19. Previously, medical employees breaking into people's homes to disinfect the house sparked controversy. Later the National Health Commission issued a notice asking people to realize the importance of targeted disinfection and COVID-19 prevention mechanism, and specified the disinfection can only apply to places where the cases lived or stayed. It also required local governments to negotiate with residents before, during and after the disinfection.

Global Times