Guangzhou residents were relieved to learn last night that a potentially dangerous mental patient suspected of killing a man last year had been recaptured two days after he walked out of an unsecured psychiatric hospital in the city.
Although police issued a press release about the man's escape on Thursday afternoon, some hours after his escape, most residents were unaware of the news until the city's information office issue a text warning on its microblog on Friday morning, by which time the man had been on the loose for more than 24 hours.
There are at least eight primary schools and nine kindergartens in the same neighbourhood as the hospital. Parents were warned to keep a closer eye on their children, and police ordered schools to boost security.
Police sent the 39-year-old man, who is suspected a killing a sanitation worker in October, to the Guangzhou Psychiatric Hospital on January 6, where he was diagnosed with severe mental disorders, including impulsive violence. He walked out of the hospital unnoticed at about 10am on Thursday and was found yesterday afternoon in Foshan , about an hour by bus or subway from Guangzhou.
Local media reported that the patient disappeared after a regular health check on Thursday. While his carer was distracted by another patient, he slipped away and removed his hospital gown before escaping through the back door of hospital, avoiding security guards.
When asked how a high-risk patient could simply walk out of an institution unnoticed, Jia Fujun, an senior official at the Guangdong Health Department, said there was a severe shortage of mental health facilities and staff in the province.
"Few hospitals have psychiatric departments, and those in Guangdong are all full," he said. "We have too few skilled medical workers."