Crash victims in southern China were on a COVID quarantine bus


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BEIJING, Sept 18 (Reuters) – Victims of a bus crash that killed 27 people and injured 20 others in southwest China’s Guizhou province were in an official government medical vehicle and were being transported for COVID-related reasons, local media reported Sunday.

The accident happened in the early hours of Sunday morning on a highway in Sandu County, located about 170 km (105 miles) southeast of the provincial capital, Guiyang, police said.

The bus, which overturned on a stretch of a highway that leads from Guiyang to Libo, a county just south of Sandu, was carrying 47 people, the police statement added. The 20 injured were treated in hospital on Sunday, an official with the publicity department of the Sandu county government told Reuters on Sunday.

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Guiyang and the wider Guizhou Province have seen an increase in COVID cases in recent days.

Unverified reports and photos of the bus circulating throughout Sunday afternoon on Chinese social media have generated renewed anger over China’s strict COVID policies and authorities’ initial lack of transparency.

“We are all on this bus,” was a popular comment posted on social media app WeChat.

“When will all this stop? asked another.

The government’s handling of COVID has created headwinds ahead of the Communist Party’s five-year congress that begins Oct. 16, when President Xi Jinping is expected to secure a historic third term as leader.

Local media outlet Caixin reported Sunday that the victims were being transported for COVID-related reasons, citing Sandu County Emergency Management Office sources. Shortly after, an article in Tianyan News, which is owned by state-owned Guizhou Daily, said the bus was a specially designed vehicle to transport people to and from the COVID quarantine.

“We haven’t confirmed that yet,” an official from Sandu’s publicity department called Mr. Yang told Reuters on Sunday when asked about the information. “Please monitor official websites. If there are any updates on this, we will announce full details soon.”

ANGER ONLINE

The bus crash quickly became the top trending topic on Weibo in China on Sunday afternoon before, shortly after, it disappeared from the top 50 trending topics.

At least some widely shared and angry blogs on the subject were removed from WeChat soon after they were posted, but some reports and comments initially remained, although many of the most critical were removed from Weibo.

Local officials are under pressure to bring the outbreaks under control, especially now, as the party congress approaches.

Guizhou recorded 712 new confirmed cases on Saturday, accounting for about 70 percent of all new cases in China and a big jump from 154 cases in the province the day before, data from China’s National Commission for Health showed on Sunday. health.

On Saturday, Guizhou authorities announced on their official WeChat account that those who needed to be quarantined “should be transported to sister cities and states” due to limited capacity in Guiyang.

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Reporting by Martin Quin Pollard; Editing by David Evans and Frank Jack Daniel

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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