COVID-19 Quarantine Bus Crashes in China, Killing at Least 27

COVID-19 Quarantine Bus Crashes in China, Killing at Least 27
A health worker wearing a personal protection suit stands next to a bus used to transport people to COVID-19 quarantine in China in a file photo. (Nicolas Asfouri/AFP via Getty Images)

BEIJING—The victims of a bus crash that killed 27 people and injured 20 more in China’s Guizhou Province were in an official government health vehicle and were being transported for COVID-related reasons, local media outlets reported on Sept. 18.

The crash occurred in the early hours of Sept. 18 on a highway in Sandu county, which is about 105 miles southeast of the provincial capital, Guiyang, according to police.

The bus, which overturned on a section of a highway that leads from Guiyang to Libo county, just south of Sandu, was carrying 47 people, the police statement noted. All 20 injured were being treated in a hospital, an official from the Sandu County government’s publicity department told Reuters on Sept. 18.

Guiyang and the wider Guizhou Province have seen a rise in COVID-19 cases in recent days.

Unverified reports and photos of the bus circulating throughout Sept. 18 on Chinese social media generated a renewed outpouring of anger at China’s strict COVID-19 policies and the initial lack of transparency from authorities.

“All of us are on this bus” was one popular comment that was being posted on the social media app WeChat.

Another commenter asked, “When will all of this stop?”

The Chinese regime’s handling of COVID-19 has created headwinds ahead of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) five-yearly meeting, which is set to begin on Oct. 16, when CCP leader Xi Jinping is expected to secure a historic third leadership term.

Local media outlet Caixin reported on Sept. 18 that the victims were being transported for COVID-related reasons, citing sources at the Sandu County Emergency Management Bureau. Soon after, a report in Tianyan News, which belongs to the state-owned Guizhou Daily, stated that the bus was a vehicle specifically designed for transporting people to and from COVID-19 quarantine.

“We have not yet confirmed this,” an official at the Sandu publicity department, Mr. Yang, told Reuters on Sept. 18 when asked about the reports. “Please monitor official websites. If there are any updates on this, we will announce any details promptly.”

Online Anger

The bus crash quickly became the top trending topic on China’s Twitter-like Weibo on Sept. 18 before it disappeared from the top 50 trending topics shortly afterward.

At least some widely shared and angry blogs on the topic were deleted from WeChat soon after publication, but some reports and comments initially remained, although many of the more critical ones were removed from Weibo.

Local officials are under pressure to keep outbreaks under control, especially now, in the lead-up to the party congress.

Guizhou recorded 712 new confirmed cases on Sept. 17, which was about 70 percent of all new cases in China and a significant jump from the 154 cases in the province the previous day, China’s national health commission data showed on Sept. 18.

The actual number of COVID-19 cases may be much higher. China’s COVID-19 data is difficult to verify, as the Chinese regime routinely suppresses or alters information.

On Sept. 17, Guizhou authorities announced on their official WeChat account that those needing to be quarantined would “need to be transported to sister cities and states” because of limited capacity in Guiyang.