Over 100 medical staff at a hospital in Harbin city were quarantined after a nurse tested positive for COVID-19, but local authorities attempted to conceal the situation, a trusted source told The Epoch Times. According to documents obtained by the publication, authorities require hospitals to follow strict guidelines in dealing with COVID-19 infections. But one expert says that the process is just a “political formality.”
Last month, an anonymous source told the Chinese-language Epoch Times that an infected case was confirmed at Heilongjiang COVID-19 treatment center, which is located at the First Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University, on Jan. 30. The hospital is located in Nangang district of Harbin, the provincial capital of China’s northeastern Heilongjiang Province.
Around 130 medical staff were quarantined in a hotel for over 20 days after a routine COVID-19 test. The hospital administrators offered no explanation, the insider said.
The provincial health authorities did not report any COVID-19 cases in Nangang district from Jan. 30 to Feb. 2. But they secretly knew that a nurse, who is in her 30s and works at the treatment center, was infected, the insider said.
Local hospitals require staff to fill out many compliance forms to ensure that COVID-19 prevention and control protocols are being followed.
The publication obtained various documents from hospitals in Nangang district of Harbin, including information of healthcare workers, nucleic acid test results, and a checklist for COVID-19 prevention and control measures.
There is also a document that local hospitals are required to sign, which holds them accountable for implementing the measures and protecting staff from COVID-19. Heilongjiang Hemei Maternity Hospital, which is also located in Nangang, signed the form on Jan. 18, according to records provided to The Epoch Times from a trusted source.
According to the document, the medical institution would take legal responsibilities “if any hospital-acquired infection [COVID-19] occurs or an infectious disease spreads” from the hospital.
However, the administrators of Heilongjiang COVID-19 treatment center and the local authorities were not held accountable for the infection case at the institution, the anonymous source revealed.
The insider said the management of the treatment center is “chaotic.”
The COVID-19 treatment center was established in the First Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University on Jan. 20. Medical workers from various hospitals in Harbin were sent to the center, but they did not receive proper training, the insider said.
Hospital patients who tested positive for COVID-19 were not isolated from those who tested negative or did not have symptoms. Patients and doctors have complained several times, but the administrators ignored them, the insider added.
U.S.-based China affairs commentator Li Linyi said the authorities began to issue instructions related to epidemic precautionary measures last year when hospitals in northern China experienced cluster outbreaks.
To stem the virus outbreak in Nangang district, the Chinese Communist Party applied the same approach adopted in previous political movements—“everyone has to pass the test,” Li said. The phrase implies that every medical worker has to register their personal information, record nucleic acid test results, and complete all the necessary paperwork.
But repeated outbreaks in hospitals suggest that local authorities and hospital staff are performing their duties as a “political formality,” Li added. They place more emphasis on filling out paperwork instead of taking real action in preventing and containing the spread of the disease. Then, the strict measures fail and local authorities continue to cover up the severity of the situation.
A year ago, when the second wave of virus infections hit Harbin, an 87-year-old man who tested positive for COVID-19, surnamed Chen, infected dozens of medical staff at a local hospital.
In January, an analysis published on the Chinese media platform Tencent news explained why the outbreak recurred—it pointed out that there are more politicians than health experts who run the COVID-19 prevention and control groups in medical institutions. In addition, authorities can make rash decisions without consulting the medical experts. For instance, Dongning city of Heilongjiang entered “wartime mode” after a case of COVID-19 was reported and all the residents were required to take nuclei acid testing.
Commentator Li said the medical workers are fed up with the politics behind implementing pandemic control measures.