Volunteer Covid-19 control worker in China stabbed to death by neighbour, days after a similar deadly confrontation

Mandy Zuo
·3-min read

A gatekeeper in Harbin, northeastern China, was stabbed to death after trying to stop a resident leaving a community, police said, the second killing of a coronavirus control worker in the country in less than two weeks.

The 42-year-old gatekeeper, Zhang Libin, stopped a man named Chen on Wednesday. Chen attacked Zhang with a knife and he died on the way to hospital, according to a statement from the municipal police bureau.

Police have detained Chen and are investigating the incident, according to the statement.

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Zhang, who lived in the same community as Chen, had volunteered to staff the community gate. He was on duty with another man when Chen approached and said he needed to leave the community to dispose of his rubbish, The Beijing News reported.

Chinese police officers patrol at Beijing Station before the annual Spring Festival. Officials and volunteers implement virus control members rigorously when an outbreak of coronavirus occurs. Photo: Getty Images
Chinese police officers patrol at Beijing Station before the annual Spring Festival. Officials and volunteers implement virus control members rigorously when an outbreak of coronavirus occurs. Photo: Getty Images

Zhang refused to allow Chen to leave and offered to dispose of the rubbish for him. Chen then took out a knife and stabbed him, another volunteer infection control worker in the city was quoted as saying.

The stabbing happened just 10 days after a villager in Qinhuangdao, Hebei province, killed an epidemic control worker after being asked to undergo Covid-19 testing, according to prosecutors.

The villager, who fled but was later detained, refused the check-up and became so angry that he knocked down the worker with his vehicle.

World ‘faces protracted war to stay ahead of coronavirus’

Hebei province adopted strict quarantine measures at the beginning of January to fight a new round of Covid-19 infections. Over 300 confirmed cases have been recorded in the past month but only a few new cases since the weekend, which local authorities attribute to quick and decisive lockdowns.

The first country in the world to go into full lockdown when Covid-19 emerged, China has battled the pandemic with rigorous measures. Yet those stringent quarantine policies, often controversial for infringing the right to free movement, continue to endanger the lives of epidemic control workers.

Deadly clashes between Covid-19 health workers and people under quarantine erupted in the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak.

Police in Taian, Shandong province, search the spot in a food market where a 15-year-old boy beat a 73-year-old gatekeeper to death for barring entry to his father’s delivery truck in line with epidemic control regulations. Photo: Miaopai
Police in Taian, Shandong province, search the spot in a food market where a 15-year-old boy beat a 73-year-old gatekeeper to death for barring entry to his father’s delivery truck in line with epidemic control regulations. Photo: Miaopai

In March, 2020, a 15-year-old boy in Taian, Shandong province, beat a 75-year-old gatekeeper at a food market to death. The gatekeeper had tried to prevent a truck taking goods to the boy’s father from entering the market, local media reported.

To control the Covid-19 outbreak, the market had banned the entry of trucks. An argument between the boy and the gatekeeper ended with the fatal assault.

China has been on high alert since a new wave of Covid-19 infections began in the north of the country in early January.

Lockdowns, travel bans and mass testing have been implemented to prevent the virus spreading further as the annual Lunar New Year migration season approaches.

Seventeen new local cases were reported by China on Thursday, suggesting the latest wave of the virus is subsiding.

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