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Quarantine Bus Crash Erects Questions on No-Covid Policy

A bus carrying dozens of people to a quarantine facility crashed over the weekend in southwestern China, killing at least 27 of them and setting off a renewed, anguished debate about the country’s zero-tolerance Covid policies.


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The bus was transporting 47 people from Guiyang when it rolled over around 2:40 a.m. on Sunday, about 100 miles southeast of the city, according to the local authorities. In addition to the 27 people killed, the 20 others onboard were injured.


Much of Guiyang, the capital of Guizhou Province, has been under lockdown since earlier this month after a cluster of Covid-19 cases emerged. The province had been largely spared the virus’s worst ravages since the pandemic began last year.


Under China’s rigid rules for preventing imported coronavirus cases, people who have been in close contact with an infected person must be quarantined for 14 days. The bus crash has reignited criticism of the country’s policy of forcibly detaining people in state-run facilities, often with little regard for their comfort or well-being.


State media reports did not say where the people on the bus were being taken, but an article published on Sunday by The Guiyang Daily said they were all “close contacts” of Covid-19 patients and were headed to a quarantine centre.


Some residents questioned why the authorities were using buses to transport people for quarantine when a subway line runs between Guiyang and the town of Anshun, where the crash occurred. The cost of a one-way ticket on the subway is about $1.50, while a bus ticket costs about $4.50.


“Why didn’t they just put them on the train?” one resident wrote on Weibo, a Twitter-like social media platform. “There are plenty of empty seats.”


Others said the Crash had exposed the harsh reality of China’s quarantine policy, which has been increasingly criticised as inhumane and ineffective.


The No Covid Policy is a Joke,” read one headline on Sunday on The Paper, a news website based in Shanghai.


What do you think of China’s no-covid policy? Is it working, or is it too harsh? Let us know in the comments!


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