More than 70 Chinese officials have been sacked or disciplined over the past month as Covid-19 spreads across the country . The latest wave of Covid-19, driven by the more contagious Omicron virus, has resulted in more than 20,000 infections all over the country. While health officials have acknowledged that most of the infections showed little or no symptoms making their detection difficult, top leaders have warned officials they face harsh punishment if they are caught slacking or fail to act swiftly. This zero-tolerance stance has spurred some local officials to adopt drastic actions as they feared disciplinary punishment once cases began to increase, an observer said. Investigations by the South China Morning Post have found that at least 74 officials have been sacked or reprimanded for failing to do their duty during the current wave. These include 14 city and public security officials who were fired in the southern province of Guangdong , including the deputy police chiefs for the province and Shenzhen and Dongguan’s security chief. While the announcements did not give details about why they had been dismissed, a Guangdong official with knowledge of the situations said they were punished for failing to detect and quickly control outbreaks in isolation facilities in Dongguan and Shenzhen. “The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection and the Organisation Department of the Central Committee is very focused on the performance of provincial cadres in the fight against the epidemic, and those who failed will be taken out of the promotion track while those have performed well will be short-listed [for promotion],” he said. Chinese tech hub hopes to resume production as Covid situation stabilises Northeastern Jilin province has also sacked the top health official in the provincial capital Changchun and the mayor of Jilin city, the province’s second-largest city, along with 12 other officials for failing to curb the spread of the virus which has accounted for more than half of mainland China’s infections in the current outbreak. The series of punishments coincided with a Politburo meeting last Thursday, where President Xi Jinping ordered local authorities to press on with the “dynamic zero-case” policy, and stamp out transmissions as soon as possible with targeted lockdowns. Beijing’s repeated orders that local officials should regard the fight against Covid as a top “political task” has prompted some cadres to double down on restrictions and adopt a “one size fits all” approach at the grass roots level, according to Alfred Wu, an associate professor at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy of National University of Singapore. “Beijing has to show its resolve in holding local officials accountable for their actions, otherwise people will blame the leadership for failures,” he said. “But this might not achieve what Beijing wants. While the National Health Commission had repeatedly called on local officials not to apply extra restrictions and control measures on top of the national guidelines, many cities still adopt overkill measures even when there are only a handful of cases,” Wu said. He said that so far only places like Shanghai, which have the necessary resources and expertise, have been confident enough to implement measures that are “precisely pertinent to the situation”. In the past two months, only one disciplinary case in northern Heilongjiang province has targeted local cadres who implemented excessive social control measures, while the others punished those who failed to contain the outbreak. Officials in Chinese cities sacked as zero-Covid brings zero tolerance Wu pointed out that Beijing has not slapped blanket punishments on officials.“Those who had clearly failed in their direct responsibility were usually removed or replaced, but those who only bore partial responsibility were usually given a disciplinary warning, which will not not affect their promotion prospects in the longer run.” Since the first Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan, Beijing has sacked or reprimanded over 1,000 officials for failures to control the pandemic, including former Hubei party secretary Jiang Chaoliang and governor Wang Xiaodong. Jiang and Wang landed semi-retirement jobs in China’s national legislative and political advisory bodies last year.