According to China’s official data, there have been more than 30,000 new COVID cases every day for four consecutive days as the pandemic in China continues spreading. The “zero-COVID” policy has been unable to stop the pandemic from developing, leading to chaos. Recently, it was reported that the “health codes” of all residents in Leliu Street, Shunde District, Foshan City, Guangdong Province, changed to a “red code” overnight. That simultaneously created a necessity for nucleic acid tests for everyone, leading to a stampede. The elderly and children were trampled, and the damage is unknown.

The “Foshan stampede incident” occurred at the nucleic acid sampling site of Xinfu Culture and Entertainment Center in Xincheng Community, Foshan City. Related news continues to spread wildly on the Internet. Official reports published by Chinese media indicated that the incident was caused by many people coming for nucleic acid testing and relatively few on-site staff. Officials claimed that only six or seven people were trampled at the scene, but none of them were seriously injured.

However, some netizens pointed out that a boy’s leg was broken in the stampede. Netizens also shared the news on Weibo, saying that the reason for the stampede was that the authorities had put residents of the Shunde district on the list of “high-risk people,” so they must do a nucleic acid test to rule out the high-risk condition. Someone also revealed that this incident happened because the local check system had a problem, causing the health codes of all residents in Leliu town to turn red immediately. So that their lives and work could continue, residents needed a negative PCR test certificate, so they rushed to line up for testing, eventually leading to the out-of-control scene.

According to a video, it was raining heavily at the time. Many people holding umbrellas jostled each other and tripped, the crowd became disorderly, and the scene was chaotic. A woman inside shouted: “Oh god, I stepped on someone.” It is said that the elderly and children were stepped on, even including a three-year-old child.

Locals revealed that many people started queuing up at 6 a.m., but the testing staff didn’t arrive until 9 a.m. As a result, the morning test time was only about two hours. Some parents worried that their children wouldn’t be able to attend online learning in time. That, plus the bad weather, caused crowds to grow increasingly impatient and overflow. The staff tried maintaining order in the chaos, but it wasn’t easy to control. In addition, some residents of Shunde revealed that it took them two or three hours to do a nucleic acid test. After queuing in the rain for more than an hour, they said bluntly: “This is not preventing the pandemic. This is spreading the pandemic!”

The Foshan stampede sparked heated discussions on the Internet. After watching the video, many netizens sighed, “Three years of torment have not ended yet.”

The so-called health code is a program to digitize personal health status by dividing people’s health status into three colors: red, yellow, and green, and dynamically displays the individual’s disease risk level. The first “Health Code” came from the “Alipay Health Code” developed by Alibaba’s “Ant Financial” online banking platform. Later, Tencent WeChat also launched a similar system, quickly covering more than 200 cities in China.

A CNN reporter once described his experience in Shanghai in 2020. He said that he did not receive any tests from beginning to end. The test staff just looked at the health code on his cell phone, confirmed it was green, and let him go. And this app only uses the location of the mobile phone to determine if he is near someone at risk of infection. If near someone at risk geographically, it can change from green to yellow. The health code is a “travel detecting” app, not a “showing test results” app, not a doctor determining the user’s health status, but big data and AI.

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