Beijing health chief sacked as city battles virus outbreak

Workers set up barricades to seal off a market and its surrounding premises, amid the Covid-19 outbreak in Beijing on May 25, 2022. - Reuters

BEIJING (AFP): Beijing has sacked its top health official, state media reported Wednesday (May 25), as the Chinese capital battles a surge in Covid-19 infections despite the country's strict zero-tolerance policy.

The city has reported hundreds of cases in recent weeks in an Omicron-variant-fuelled outbreak -- its largest since the start of the pandemic.

Millions have been ordered to work from home with the vast majority of bus and subway services suspended, while thousands of people were relocated to quarantine hotels after a handful of infections were detected in their residential compounds.

Yu Luming, the former head of the municipal health commission, has been removed from his position, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Yu is suspected of "serious violations of discipline and law, and is currently undergoing disciplinary review and supervision investigation," Xinhua said, without giving further details.

China has persisted with a zero-Covid policy, imposing hard lockdowns and movement restrictions on several cities even as much of the world has transitioned to living with the coronavirus.

In the capital, many parks, restaurants, schools and shops remain closed.

The Communist Party-owned Beijing News also reported on Wednesday that city vice-mayor Wang Hong had submitted her resignation, but the brief report did not mention a reason.

Local authorities who are unable to contain virus outbreaks have regularly been sacked or punished since the pandemic began.

This includes multiple officials in the southern metropolis Shanghai, after a chaotic lockdown and spiralling outbreak that brought the city to a standstill.

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