Lin Gang, vice mayor of Guiyang, said the bus was carrying 45 residents from Guiyang, the provincial capital, to Libo County, a remote mountain town 155 miles away, for quarantine. The bus left Guiyang at 12:10 AM (12:10 PM on Saturday ET) and capsized on the highway at 2:40 AM.
Lin said the cause of the accident is still under investigation.
It remains unclear why the quarantine bus sets off after midnight to take people to another city for quarantine. China’s transportation regulation prohibits the operation of long-distance passenger buses between 2 am and 5 am.
Local authorities are facing pressure to achieve the “zero Covid” goal. The city has prepared 20 buses and 40 bus drivers to transport close contacts of COVID patients to other cities, Guiyang Evening Daily reported on Saturday.
As of Saturday, the city had transferred more than 7,000 people to other cities, and nearly 3,000 others were waiting to be transferred from Guiyang.
News of the deaths sparked a massive outcry on Chinese social media, with many questioning the country’s increasingly strict no-Covid-19 policy.
Several posts of the incident published by state media prevented people from commenting, and search results for Guizhou on Chinese social media appeared to have been filtered.