Two mainland cities, including China’s southern gateway city Shenzhen, have sacked and punished dozens of officials for falling short in their fight against Covid 19, as the mainland battles the largest outbreaks in multiple cities since the Wuhan outbreak in 2020.
Futian district in Shenzhen, which was hit by a rise in Covid-19 cases, sacked eight officials for dereliction of duty in the city’s fight against Covid- 19.
They include three deputy directors of Futian district government, the Futian public security chief and two of his deputies, as well as the district’s health commission director.
Separately, Gao Yutang, director of Changchun health commission in Jilin province, was fired for failing to sufficiently prepare, mobilise resources and supervise the city’s health authorities to fight against the Omicron outbreak.
Gao Zhongbao, health director of Jiutai district in Changchun, was also sacked. He was punished for an outbreak in a school in the district and accused of not advising the school to introduce social distancing, as well as allowing the school to hold classes when positive cases began to emerge in the district.
A further 14 officials in Jilin province were reprimanded or subjected to party discipline for being lax in their fight against Covid-19. They include local education and health officials, an official in charge of an industrial zone, local police, a high school principal and village officials.
Jilin City in northeastern China is the worst hit of all the mainland cities that have been battling a rise in Omicron cases since the beginning of March.
The punishments were announced on Thursday, the same day Chinese President Xi Jinping held a meeting with the elite Politburo about China’s fight against Covid-19.
Xi told the meeting China would press on with its “dynamic zero-case” policy, and ordered local authorities to stamp out transmissions as soon as possible with precisely targeted lockdowns.
He also said local officials would be held accountable if they failed to control outbreaks in time.
Xi’s order came as the Omicron subvariant BA. 2 hits many parts of the country. The subvariant is more contagious and harder to identify compared with other strains of the coronavirus.
China has revised its treatment guidelines to stop treating mild patients in hospitals, although they will still be sent to quarantine facilities.
Jiang Rongmeng, vice-director of Beijing Ditan Hospital, said many positive cases suffered symptoms even more mild than those of seasonal flu.
Mainland China reported more than 4,000 infections – including 2,388 cases with symptoms and 1,742 without – on Thursday. Among the symptomatic cases, more than half were found in Jilin City, and 69 local cases were in Shenzhen.
This article was first published in South China Morning Post.