Authorities in the Chinese city of Guangzhou have apologised to the residents of a locked-down community for break-ins and removing locks from their homes to search for close contacts of those who tested positive for Covid-19.
According to Chinese state media reports, 84 homes in an apartment complex in Liwan district had been opened in an effort to find any “close contacts” hiding inside and to disinfect the premises.
The Liwan district authorities apologised for such “oversimplified and violent” behaviour, reported Global Times.
Authorities added that an investigation team has been formed to probe the matter and promised to punish those involved.
The district government’s notice on 8 July stated that some residents who had tested Covid positive had been moved to quarantine facilities.
Later some of their close contacts were found hiding in their homes, who also tested positive for the virus.
Two days later local officials and community workers unlocked 84 houses in those buildings, checked inside them and later sealed their doors.
The incident was captured on video while district officials said new locks had been installed for the residents.
The incident sparked outrage on Chinese social media.
China has continued its “zero Covid” policy, which includes mass testing, quarantines and lockdowns.
Some lockdowns, like in Shanghai earlier this year, have lasted for months and tested citizens’ patience.
There have been several cases of police and health workers breaking into homes around China in the name of anti-Covid measures that have been recorded on social media, reported the Associated Press.
In some, doors have been broken down and residents threatened with punishment, even when they tested negative for the virus.
In other cases authorities have demanded keys to lock in residents of apartment buildings where cases have been detected, steel barriers erected to prevent them leaving their compounds and iron bars welded over doors.
In the case of the society in Liwan district, the Tianmu News outlet reported that the building officials had said the homes were broken in so residents could be screened.
Users on Chinese social media termed the incident “lawless” and against people’s rights, reported the BBC.
Chinese government website data shows that at present there are over 1,000 locked down communities in the country as the infectious Omicron subvariants spread.