Xi’an, an ancient capital and now major center of industry 600 miles southwest of Beijing, was locked down late last month amid China’s worst outbreak of the coronavirus since it was first detected in Wuhan in late 2019. Residents have been told to stay home except to get tested for Covid, according to NBC.
Officials in Xi’an have been punished after reports emerged of people being denied lifesaving medical treatment and running low on food amid a strict coronavirus lockdown in the Chinese city of 13 million.
In recent days, outrage over the lockdown conditions has swelled as people shared personal stories online, forcing authorities to apologize and announce disciplinary action against officials. One account posted on the popular Chinese social media platform Weibo said a heavily pregnant woman miscarried outside the Xi’an Gaoxin Hospital on Jan. 1 after she was refused entry because she hadn’t been tested for the virus recently enough.
“The blood ran down the chair and her pants, the ground was covered in blood,” a user named Biexiayulechengma, described as a relative of the woman, said in a post. “The 8-month-old child was stillborn and had no heartbeat.”
The post has since been deleted and further posts on the account hidden from public view, but a hashtag spreading news of the report has been viewed hundreds of millions of times on the platform. NBC News was unable to independently verify the post or the facts of the report.
An employee in the hospital’s publicity department said she was aware of the incident but did not know what exactly happened. Other hospital staff declined to answer questions on the phone or did not answer.
Vice Premier Sun Chunlan said Thursday that she was “deeply ashamed” that the woman had miscarried because of delayed treatment. “It revealed the laxity and imprecision in our Covid prevention work, and taught everyone a profound lesson,” Chinese state media quoted her as saying.
Speaking at a news conference the same day, Liu Shunzhi, director of the Xi’an municipal health department, confirmed that a pregnant woman miscarried after waiting for two hours outside the entrance to the hospital.
“This is an accident caused by negligence,” he said, reading from a statement later posted online by the Xi’an municipal government.
Following investigations, the provincial and municipal health committees found that the hospital had failed to triage patients correctly and had “insufficient” emergency response plans, Liu said.
The hospital’s general manager was suspended and those in charge of the outpatient department and the medical department were dismissed, he added.
“On behalf of the municipal health department, I deeply apologize to this patient, and deeply apologize for the poor access to medical treatment,” he said.
The municipal government said in an earlier statement posted on Weibo Thursday that disciplinary action had also been taken against Liu and Li Qiang, Chinese Communist Party director of the Xi’an emergency center, but did not give further details.