China’s Xi’an Hospital was punished for denying pregnant woman entry

Hospital officials in the northern Chinese city of Xi’an have been punished after a pregnant woman – who later had an abortion – was denied entry, allegedly for not having current COVID-19 test results.

The city government announced on Thursday that Gaoxin Hospital General Manager Fan Yuhui has been suspended and the heads of the outpatient and medical departments fired.

A government statement said the incident “created widespread concern in the community and caused a serious social impact”.

The statement was read at a press conference by the head of the city’s health department, Liu Shunzhi, who bowed in apology to the woman who is recovering and for “providing poor access to medical treatment and inadequate service to those with special needs” .

The system will “open green channels for those with special needs and do everything possible to ensure that everyone gets attention in the midst of the pandemic,” state media quoted Liu as saying.

State workers in protective clothing gather at a pandemic control workstation outside an apartment block.
Xi’an has been under strict lockdown for more than two weeks.(AP: Chinatopix)

The pregnant woman had abdominal pain but was forced to wait outside the hospital for a pink plastic stool for two hours on New Year’s Day.

She then began to bleed uncontrollably, according to widely circulated reports that accompanied a video taken by her husband showing a puddle of blood at her feet.

Xi’an, a city of 13 million, has been under strict blockade for more than two weeks, which has led to widespread criticism of food shortages and harsh behavior on the part of the authorities, who are under intense pressure to get COVID-19- case numbers down.

The city said an investigation into the incident was underway but gave no details.

The hospital was required to provide a public apology, provide compensation and “optimize the medical treatment process”.

It was not clear how many hospital staff had been punished in total, but they joined a growing list of officials who were disciplined over their handling of the outbreak.

The city government said Thursday that two other high-ranking officials with the Xi’an Emergency Center and the Xi’an Municipal Health Commission had been given formal warnings by the ruling Communist Party.

Officials claim that Community transmission has stopped

A person wearing full PPE hands a man a tray of eggs.
A volunteer volunteers hand over eggs to a buyer in the middle of Xi’an’s lockdown.(Chinatopix / AP)

On Thursday, Xi’an recorded a further 63 cases of the COVID-19 Delta variant, bringing its total number over its month-long outbreak to more than 1,800 with no reported deaths.

Officials have said the city, home to the famous Terracotta Warriors statues along with major industries, has basically stopped community transfer because all the new cases were among people who were already in quarantine.

Although these numbers are relatively small compared to eruptions in the United States and elsewhere, they come less than a month before Beijing is to host the Winter Olympics.

It has put officials under intense pressure to contain infections, which has prompted an escalation of already serious measures under China’s “zero tolerance” strategy of quarantining every case, conducting mass tests and placing entire cities under lockdown.

Xi’an main airport suspended all international flights on Wednesday.

Domestic flights had already been put on hold as part of measures to cordon off the city. Tens of thousands of close contacts to infected people have been placed in quarantine centers.

Authorities are also implementing increasingly stringent measures following an outbreak in Henan province just west of Shaanxi province, where Xi’an is the capital.

People register for testing at a COVID-19 test site where staff are wearing white protective suits.
China’s zero transmission program includes frequent shutdowns, universal masking and mass testing.(AP: Xinhua / Shao Rui)

A city in the province, Yuzhou, was also put under blockade after the discovery of three asymptomatic cases.

Since then, the number of cases has ticked up, with 55 reported Thursday afternoon.

Only emergency vehicles are allowed on the roads, classes have been suspended, and businesses serving the public are closed to all but essential needs in the city of $ 1.17 million.

Several other cities in the province have ordered mass tests and closed public venues, despite the fact that only a small number of cases have been detected.

In the nearby Shanxi province, the city of Yongji and its population of nearly 500,000 were put under lockdown after traces of coronavirus were discovered at an exit point at the local train station.

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