Chinese governments at different levels punished more than 70 officials across the nation for failing to properly perform duties in COVID-19 control in support of stringent measures against the virus.
The anti-graft body in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, announced recently that three officials working at the city's Lukou subdistrict had been detained by discipline inspection authorities on suspicion of serious violations of Party discipline and laws for allegedly failing to perform duties effectively as required to contain the virus.
The Nanjing Lukou International Airport, located in the subdistrict, was found negligent in sanitation and change-of-clothing protocols when monitoring its cabin cleaners, which caused China's most severe coronavirus outbreak since the epidemic subsided last year.
On Wednesday, Yangzhou reported 37 new confirmed cases, more than any other city. While Nanjing has reported 234 locally transmitted cases since July 20, the COVID-19 tally in Yangzhou has risen to 485 in that period.
Vice-Premier Sun Chunlan emphasized the need for more diligent efforts and resolute measures to contain the virus in Yangzhou.
Sun, also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, made the remarks when she inspected Yangzhou on Wednesday.
She asked the Yangzhou government to increase efficiency and coordination, and to show a great sense of responsibility and do a better job.
Sun also called for better management for nucleic acid testing, strict enforcement of quarantine measures for high-risk people and communities and asked the city to open more quarantine stations.
Sun met with Lou Qinjian, Jiangsu's Party secretary, Governor Wu Zhenglong and relevant departments to analyze the current epidemic situation to improve the virus control work.
Also in Yangzhou, eight officials were given punishments on Sunday that ranged from administrative demerits to notices of criticism for failing to contain the virus effectively.
On Saturday, six officials in Nanjing, including Vice-Mayor Hu Wanjin, were also given punishments.
In Guangzhou, Guangdong province, two vice-mayors were among 20 Party and government officials disciplined after the COVID-19 outbreak in relation to imported cases between May 21 and June 19, the Guangdong Commission for Discipline Inspection said on Thursday.
As of Thursday, officials in Zhengzhou, Henan province, Yantai, Shandong province, and Zhangjiajie, Hunan province, had received punishments from disciplinary watchdogs for improperly dealing with the epidemic.
The punishments were given for officials' failure to act aggressively enough against the coronavirus, the commission said.
"China has carried out effective containment methods for more than a year since COVID-19 broke out," Hu Yinglian, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, told China Daily. "Some local officials are reluctant to implement the policy. ... It's not the fault of the decision-making at the policy level, but ineffective implementation in practice that resulted in the transmission of the virus to many Chinese cities.
"Case by case, these examples warn us never to relax," he said. "Disease containment is essential to economic development and people's livelihoods at this specific stage. The CPC and Chinese government will always put people's health as top priority even at the expense of huge economic losses."
At a news conference early this month, Zhang Wenhong, head of the Center for Infectious Diseases at Huashan Hospital of Fudan University in Shanghai, said:"It is not the first time that China has fought against the Delta variant. We successfully contained the outbreak in Guangzhou, and the outbreak in Nanjing is gradually being brought under control."
China's past experience in prevention, control and treatment has been effective so far, Zhang stressed.
On Wednesday, the Chinese mainland recorded 10 local cases in Hubei, seven in Hunan, and three each in Henan and Yunnan, the National Health Commission said on Thursday.