A doctor in China’s Zhoukou city has been charged with a crime for allegedly treating a fever patient while working at a hospital without a fever clinic.
Patients with possible Covid-19 symptoms in China can only get treatment at specially designated hospitals.
The doctor, only known by their surname Guo, was charged on suspicion of “obstructing the prevention and control of infectious diseases”.
China is pursuing a zero-Covid policy, with a tough elimination strategy.
According to a notice by authorities in Henan province, Guo had treated the patient at a hospital in Zhoukou from 29 October to 2 November last year.
The hospital, of which Guo was the vice-director, had not set up fever clinics as part of its operations.
In China, doctors are not allowed to treat patients exhibiting Covid-like symptoms at hospitals that are not equipped with fever clinics.
Instead, patients are meant to be sent to “fever clinics” – medical facilities initially set up to combat the severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars) outbreak in 2002 – to prevent further infection.
It is not clear how the alleged incident was uncovered, or why Guo might have decided to treat the patient.
If convicted, Guo may face up to seven years’ imprisonment, according to state-run news agency Xinhua.
China has been battling sporadic outbreaks of Covid, along with emerging cases of the highly contagious Omicron variant in cities like Xi’an and Yuzhou – both of which were recently placed into total lockdown.
Authorities are already advising people to stay put ahead of the peak travel season of Chinese New Year that starts at the end of January and runs well into February, during which millions of people are expected to make trips.
Beijing is also ramping up to host the Winter Olympics at the start of next month, casting into doubt its ability to maintain its zero-Covid stance.