27 killed, 20 injured as bus carrying people to COVID quarantine centre crashes in China

BEIJING, Sep 18:  At least 27 people were killed and 20 others injured when a passenger bus transporting them to a coronavirus quarantine centre crashed in China’s Guizhou province on Sunday, prompting online criticism of Beijing’s zero-COVID policy.

The official media reported that the bus overturned on a highway in Guizhou province but there was no mention that the vehicle was transporting people to the quarantine centre.

Later reports emerged on social media that the bus was transporting contacts of COVID-positive patients from Guiyang, but the comments were soon censored, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.

Unconfirmed photos posted online showed everyone on the vehicle, including the driver, wearing white hazmat suits and goggles.

Local Guizhou Daily confirmed on Sunday that the coach was transporting people “affected by COVID-19 outbreak controls”.

Under China’s dynamic zero COVID-19 policy, all contacts of coronavirus patients are required to go under quarantine at a government centre.

The accident prompted criticism online about the aggressive control measures China is using to try to contain COVID-19 cases.

“What will the government say to people?” a user of the Chinese social media Weibo akin to Twitter said.

“COVID didn’t kill people, instead, they were killed on the way to be quarantined. That is really ridiculous,” the user said.

“This is the biggest tragedy resulting from unscientific COVID control measures,” another Weibo user said, according to the Post report.

Guiyang, a city of nearly six million people, went into a snap lockdown at the start of the month and many residents have been struggling to get enough food.

Wang Jie, a Guiyang official in charge of the quarantine transfers, said on Saturday that many of the thousands of people believed to have been exposed to the virus had been transferred to quarantine centres.

Because of the limited capacity in the city, some of those affected were taken to centres outside Guiyang, he said in a media conference about the outbreak.

As of Saturday, 7,396 people had been transferred out of town, with another 2,900 people on their way, Wang said. (PTI)