China’s Covid lockdown in Xi’an brings heartbreak and dysfunction as political

The city of 13 million has been under strict lockdown since December 23, as it grapples with the country’s worst coronavirus outbreak since Wuhan, the original epicenter of the pandemic. But local authorities have faced a public outcry over perceived incompetence, and disproportionately harsh measures that critics say harm the lives of those they are supposed to protect.

One heavily pregnant woman was allegedly turned away from a hospital on New Year’s Day because she didn’t have a valid Covid-19 test, according to a post from a user who said she was the woman’s niece. A video posted on January 3 shows the woman sitting outside with a pool of blood around her feet. She was finally admitted two hours later — but suffered a miscarriage, said the post, shared widely on Chinese micro-blogging platform Weibo before it was deleted.

A staff member from Xi’an Gaoxin Hospital, where the woman sought care, told CNN they were investigating the incident, and that the hospital had initially turned away the woman in accordance with the government’s Covid-19 regulations, but declined to comment further.

On Xiaohongshu, China’s Instagram-like platform, a user appealed for help on Sunday after a local hospital refused to admit her father, who had just had a heart attack, because they lived in a “medium-risk area” of the city.

She later updated the post, saying her father was allowed an emergency operation when his situation worsened significantly after several hours. “The delay was too long and rescue failed. I don’t have a father anymore,” she wrote.

The woman posted her encounter in more detail on Weibo on Wednesday night. Her emotional account immediately went viral, attracting 630,000 “likes” and was shared more than 110,000 times as of Thursday.
Workers disinfect packed vegetables at a residential area under quarantine in Xi'an, China, on December 25, 2021.

Another video posted online showed a woman in a quarantine hotel on New Year’s Day, begging a Covid control worker for sanitary pads. In the post, viewed tens of millions of times before it was removed, the woman said she had tried to call multiple government departments to ask for menstrual products — to no avail.

The woman later posted that she had received supplies from quarantine workers and said she regretted filming the original video.

CNN cannot independently verify the authenticity of these videos and posts, and has reached out to the authors for comment, as well as the Xi’an municipal government.

The poignant accounts have sparked an outpouring of sympathy and anger online, with many questioning sacrifice in the name of epidemic control.

“No one cares what you die of — other than Covid-19,” one Weibo user posted.

Following the public outcry, Xi’an officials told a news conference Wednesday that hospitals “must not use the excuse of epidemic prevention and control to avoid treating patients,” including critical patients like pregnant women.
On Thursday, Xi’an authorities said the general manager of Xi’an Gaoxin Hospital has been suspended, staff involved in the incident had been removed from their posts, and ordered the hospital to apologize to the public. The ruling Communist Party’s disciplinary watchdog in the city also issued an internal warning to the head of the Xi’an Health Commission as well as two…

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