According to Lin Gang, deputy mayor of Guiyang, the bus took 45 residents of the provincial capital of Guiyang to Libo, a remote and mountainous town 255 miles away, for quarantine. The bus left Guiyang at 12:10 PM (Saturday 12:10 PM ET) and overturned on the highway at 2:40 AM.
The cause of this accident is still under investigation, Lin said.
It is still unclear why a quarantine bus would leave after midnight to transport people to another city for quarantine. Chinese transport regulations prohibit the use of long-distance buses for passengers between 2 a.m. and 5 a.m.
Local authorities are under pressure to achieve “zero Covid” goal. The Guiyang Evening Paper said on Saturday that the city had prepared 20 buses and 40 bus drivers to transport close contacts of Covid patients to other cities.
And as of Saturday, the city had transferred more than 7,000 people to other cities and nearly 3,000 others were waiting to be transported by bus from Guiyang.
News of the deaths sparked a stir on Chinese social media, with many questioning the country’s increasingly strict zero-covid policy.
Many reports of the accident published by state media have banned people from commenting, and Guizhou search results on Chinese social media appear to have been filtered.