Armed police in Jingxi, in southern China, have paraded four alleged violators of Covid rules through the streets, state media reported, a practice that was banned but which has resurfaced in the struggle to enforce a zero-Covid policy.
The four men were accused of smuggling people across China’s closed borders, and on Tuesday they were led through the streets wearing hazmat suits and bearing placards showing their name and photos. The state-run Guangxi daily reported the action was designed to deter “border-related crimes”.
A common practice during the Cultural Revolution, public shaming has long since been banned in China, and the Communist party-affiliated Beijing News said the Jingxi incident “seriously violates the spirit of the rule of law and cannot be allowed to happen again”.
The Global Times newspaper said that the courts and the Ministry of Public Security had issued various orders since the 1980s to ban the parading of criminal suspects, noting that officials themselves could now be punished. The most recent notice was issued by the ministry in February last year after a man in Hebei Province was tied to a tree for going out to buy cigarettes during lockdown.
Social media posts on the topic had received more than 350m views and more than 30,000 comments by Wednesday night, it reported.
China is taking strict measures, including sweeping lockdowns affecting millions of citizens, to deal with a rise in cases. The nation reported 203 new daily cases on Wednesday, and one of the world’s largest memory chip makers, Micron Technology, said that ongoing restrictions in the city of Xi’an could lead to delays in the global supply of its DRAM memory chips.
The World Health Organization (WHO), meanwhile, has cautioned against reducing Covid isolation times as a “tsunami” of cases driven by the Omicron variant threatens to overwhelm health systems around the world.
The highly transmissible variant propelled the US, France and Denmark to fresh records on Wednesday, with AFP’s tally of 6.55 million infections reported globally in the space of seven days through to Tuesday, demonstrating the unprecedented spread.
The figures were the highest since the WHO declared a pandemic in March 2020, underscoring the blistering pace of Omicron transmission, with tens of millions of people facing a second consecutive year of restrictions dampening New Year’s Eve celebrations.
“I am highly concerned that Omicron, being more transmissible, circulating at the same time as Delta, is leading to a tsunami of cases,” said WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “This is and will continue to put immense pressure on exhausted health workers, and health systems on the brink of collapse.”
The surge, currently worst in Europe, is forcing governments to walk a tightrope between imposing restrictions designed to stop hospitals from becoming…