Beijing man sends 5,000 neighbours into quarantine after breaking Covid rule

A man in Beijing is under criminal probe after he skipped out on mandated Covid-19 home isolation, prompting authorities to send his more than 5,000 neighbours into home or government quarantine, officials said on Monday.

The actions by the man, who later tested positive, come as the Chinese capital and Shanghai begin to ease restrictions, the Guardian reported.

According to the officials, the man, in his early 40s, had been told to isolate at home after he entered a shopping plaza deemed a risk area on May 23.

They alleged that during his period of isolation he “went out many times, and moved in the community, risking the spread of the epidemic”, before he and his wife tested positive five days later, the Guardian reported.

In response, authorities ordered 258 people who lived in his building to go to government quarantine centre, and the more than 5,000 others who lived in the residential community to stay at home.

China has imposed harsh curbs on its population as it works to eliminate outbreaks of the highly transmissible Omicron variant of Covid-19.

China’s zero-Covid policy has come under criticism for its significant negative impact on the economy and people, particularly in Shanghai, but President Xi Jinping has doubled down on demands that it continue, and succeed, the Guardian reported.

The strict measures have sparked widespread frustration and exhaustion among residents, but with reported case numbers now dropping and restrictions beginning to ease, online people reacted angrily to the actions of the Beijing man.

“It’s been two days since it’s been cleared, what is this man doing? Doesn’t he want to clear the epidemic in Beijing? Does he have to come out and harm people when the situation is almost stable?” asked one commenter.

“The community and the patient each share 50% responsibility, as the community did not install a door magnetic alarm and there was a management responsibility which the community should shoulder,” said another.

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