Senior Beijing city health official sacked amid capital’s Covid battle


A top Beijing health official has been sacked for “serious violations of discipline and laws” as the Chinese capital continued to battle the latest wave of Covid-19 cases.

The removal of Yu Luming, 60, as director of Beijing’s municipal health commission was apparently not related to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic as the Communist Party’s top anti-corruption watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, announced last month that he was under investigation.

On Wednesday the official Beijing Daily newspaper reported that he had been stripped of his role at the health commission and as vice-chairman of the Beijing committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference – a top political advisory body.

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The authorities have not released further details of his alleged crimes but “serious violations of discipline and laws” is a widely used euphemism for corruption or political mistakes.

The Beijing committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference also announced the removal of Wei Yongxiang, director of the Affiliated Children’s Hospital of Capital Institute of Paediatrics, also for “serious violations of discipline and laws”. The announcement did not say if their cases were related.

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Yu, a psychiatrist by profession, joined the Communist Party in 1992 and was appointed to his post in the capital’s health commission in November 2020.

His downfall comes amid Beijing’s ongoing battle to contain the current Covid-19 outbreak, with more infections being recorded despite the imposition of strict controls in the heart of the city.

On Thursday morning, the city reported 36 new local infections – bringing the total to more than 1,500 since the latest outbreak began on April 22.

Millions have been ordered to work from home while public transport and other restrictions have been imposed.

Thousands of people have also been moved to quarantine hotels after a handful of infections were detected in their residential compounds.

But health officials stressed that the recent Covid-19 clusters are under control and the situation is improving.

“Most of the transmission chains have been completely controlled,” Zhong Dongbo, party secretary of Beijing municipal health commission, told a press conference Wednesday afternoon.

“Recently, due to some of the clusters ... the epidemic has fluctuated slightly, but the overall positive trend has not changed. The prevention and control of the epidemic in Beijing is now entering the finishing phase.”

China has punished dozens of officials for mishandling outbreaks in recent months.

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Last month, Shanghai authorities fired or reprimanded at least six people following a after a senior citizen was mistakenly declared dead by staff at an aged care centre and sent to a morgue.

In March the Post found that at least 74 officials had been sacked or reprimanded for failing to do their duty during the current wave.

These include 14 city and public security officials who were fired in the southern province of Guangdong, including the deputy police chiefs for the province and Shenzhen and Dongguan’s security chiefs.

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