Chinese official admits to overzealous enforcement of virus quarantine

Police officers stand guard outside a hotel being used for people held in medical isolation in Wuhan. (AP pic)

SHANGHAI: A top official at China’s public security bureau admitted on Wednesday that some local officials had been overzealous in their enforcement of quarantine and other disease prevention measures, amid China’s nationwide effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus.

Speaking at a news conference organized by China’s State Council Information Office (SCIO), Du Hangwei, vice minister of China’s public security bureau, said many local officers had implemented anti-virus measures which, while effective, had prevented people from leaving compounds or even going downstairs.

Du described these measures as “excessive enforcement, simplistic enforcement, crude enforcement”.

He added that the relevant departments have demanded local security bureaus rectify such enforcement measures.

Du’s comments come as Chinese households remain in a state of semi-quarantine due to the virus.

Virus prevention measures are decided at the local level, however, and enforced at the residential level, with building compounds often barring non-residents or individuals from outside the region from entering.

Over the past several weeks, media reports have surfaced in China showing police violently breaking up small gatherings, or physically threatening individuals who do not wear facemasks.