Pregnant woman loses baby after Xi'an hospital denies her entry due to expired Covid-19 test

Workers in protective suits at the entrance to a residential compound in Xi'an, China, on Jan 5, 2022. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (BLOOMBERG) - China has fired medical chiefs after a pregnant woman lost her baby outside a hospital that denied her entry due to Covid-19 controls, as officials in the central city of Xi'an face scrutiny for their strict lockdown measures.

The woman, who was eight months pregnant, was turned away from Gaoxin Hospital on Jan 1 because her Covid-19 test had expired by four hours, according to a post on Tuesday written by someone claiming to be the woman's niece.

A video posted the same day, showing what appeared to be a woman bleeding on the sidewalk outside a hospital in Xi'an's Gaoxin district, became a trending topic on a micro-blogging platform.

Two hospital department heads were fired and a general manager was suspended, the Xi'an government announced in a Thursday (Jan 6) statement.

An investigation that concluded on Wednesday determined that the incident was an "accident caused by negligence", the release said, and ordered the hospital to compensate and apologise to the woman.

The city's health commission chief Liu Shunzhi also received a warning from the Communist Party for malpractice in emergency treatment.

Xi'an is currently battling the country's worst Covid-19 outbreak since the start of the pandemic, having reported more than 1,700 cases in a month.

The lockdown has banned its more than 13 million residents from leaving their homes without a special reason, triggering shortages of food and medical care.

This has led to social media posts criticising the government - a rarity in the nation.

Two lower-level officials have already been dismissed in Xi'an to "strengthen epidemic prevention and control", the government said on Monday.

Earlier this week, the health code system that strictly controls people's movements crashed, prompting the suspension of the head of the local big-data bureau, according to a local Communist Party body.

China is one of the very few countries left practising a zero-tolerance Covid-19 strategy that relies on strict border controls, extensive testing and lockdowns to bring infections to zero.

While the Xi'an outbreak is of the Delta variant, the more transmissible Omicron strain now roiling the world poses a further challenge to that approach.

Mainland China has not yet reported community spread of Omicron.

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