China’s Covid-19 health code system crashed in Xi’an, led to chaos in city


China’s Covid-19 health code system that strictly governs people’s movements crashed in Xi’an this week, worsening conditions in the locked-down city where the country’s worst outbreak since Wuhan has been unfolding. The crash has complicated efforts to weed out cases through mass testing, created hurdles for people seeking care at hospitals and led to the suspension of a top official, the latest among a slew of bureaucrats to be punished as Beijing fumes over the situation.

Liu Jun, head of Xi’an’s big-data bureau, was temporarily dismissed over performance failures, the municipal Communist Party Committee said in a statement. While the committee didn’t explicitly lay out the reason behind its decision, it came after Xi’an’s health code system -- which is under Liu’s purview and tracks individuals’ movements and vaccination status -- broke down on Tuesday.

The system crash meant that locals were unable to access their Covid infection status after Xi’an embarked on a new widespread round of nucleic acid tests, according to a media report. The provincial government said in a statement later that the system was temporarily paralyzed due to overwhelming traffic, and being fixed. It had also experienced technical issues in December. People must show their health codes -- which prove that they tested negative for Covid -- to enter hospitals.

A mother lost her baby after waiting more than two hours as a hospital wouldn’t let her in without the health code showing that she was infection-free, according to a video trending on Weibo. The provincial women’s federation said it was looking into the matter.

Similar complaints and criticisms were seen elsewhere on Chinese social media as patients failed to get timely treatment at hospitals already overwhelmed by the virus.

With more than 1,700 cases, the virus situation in Xi’an has triggered shortages of food and medical care amid a lockdown that has banned its more than 13 million residents from leaving their homes without a special reason. The strict measures -- some of the toughest in the world -- come as Chinese authorities race to curtail the country’s Covid outbreak ahead of the Beijing Winter Olympics next month, and have led to increasingly vocal frustration among locals.

(Except for the headline and the pictorial description, this story has not been edited by THE DEN staff and is published from a syndicated feed.)