Jul 20, 2022 - World

Chinese officials apologize for apartment break-ins to search for COVID cases

A person receiving a coronavirus test in Guangzhou, China, on July 8.
A person receiving a coronavirus test in Guangzhou, China, on July 8. Photo: Stringer/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Local officials in Guangzhou issued a rare apology Wednesday on behalf of community health workers who broke into dozens of apartments while searching for people who tested positive for coronavirus and other people who had close contacts.

Why it matters: The break-ins prompted severe criticism from residents on social media, while photos circulating on platforms showed broken locks in front of apartment doors, according to the New York Times.

  • The health workers broke into at least 84 apartments in a building near Hailong Street while searching for people they believed were infected or had close contact with an infected person and were hiding to avoid quarantine.
  • Under China's Zero-COVID strategy, people who test positive or had a close contact must spend a number of days in centralized quarantine facilities, according to the Times.

What they're saying: The government of the city’s Liwan district said the health workers conducted "conducted emergency investigations" on the apartments to "prevent the emergence of new community transmission."

  • "The above-mentioned emergency household inspection method is simple and crude, ignoring the feelings of the residents and hurting the feelings of the masses," it said.
  • It claimed that all locks had been replaced and that the head of the neighborhood personally apologized to each resident.

The big picture: Similar community health workers have received criticism in other cities this year for harassing and beating residents, killing a pet dog while its owner was in quarantine and separating children from their parents.

  • World Health Organization director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said earlier this year that he believes China's zero-COVID strategy isn't sustainable given the virus' ever-evolving nature.

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