Woman rejects ward official apology for coerced testing

By Phuoc Tuan, Quoc Thang   September 29, 2021 | 04:18 pm PT
Woman rejects ward official apology for coerced testing
Hoang Phuong Lan (C) at a meeting with authorities in Thuan An Town, Binh Duong, as they apologized her for police breaking into her apartment for Covid-19 testing, September 29, 2021. Photo by VnExpress/Yen Khanh
A resident has rejected the apology made Wednesday by an official of Binh Duong's Vinh Phu Ward for police breaking into her apartment and forcibly testing her for Covid-19.

"While we were on a mission, there was a sense of urgency and procedures were not properly followed. Today, I would like to publicly apologize to you and hope for your understanding," Vo Thanh Quan, secretary of Vinh Phu Ward and also head of its Steering Committee for Covid-19 Prevention and Control, told 37-year-old Hoang Phuong Lan, a resident of the Ehome 4 apartment complex in Thuan An Town of the southern province.

Video footage showed the police breaking into Lan’s apartment Tuesday, marching her out and pinning her arms behind her back to test her for Covid-19. Quan said two coronavirus cases were found in Lan’s apartment block, but she refused to be tested.

Lan said she had told authorities that her family had been staying put at home for a long time and had already tested themselves.

Results of the test showed she was negative for the novel coronavirus.

At a Wednesday meeting with the Thuan An Town Party Committee, Quan said the forcible testing was done to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus because the block had been locked down twice in the past. Thousands of residents and health workers had suffered because of the lockdowns, he added.

"Upon detecting two Covid-19 suspects, we acted hastily. Lan did not cooperate, but our reaction was a little too tough," he said.

Lan rejected the apology.

"You have to see if my apprehension was legal or not. Apologies don't mean anything and I won't accept it, because it has harmed my health and offended my dignity," she said.

"I refused to be tested because it was not safe for me, and also because I was teaching a class at the time," she said, adding that the ward authorities could have sent quick test kits or sent health workers to the apartments for testing.

Nguyen Huu Chau, head inspector of Thuan An Town, said the officials involved in the incident would be properly dealt with.

Vo Dan Mach, a lawyer with the Ho Chi Minh City Bar Association, said there was no reason for Vinh Phu Ward authorities to use such force against someone who refuses to be tested. If Lan did not cooperate with health workers, she can only be fined, Mach said.

He said that while people refusing to cooperate or even resisting authorities could undermine Covid-19 prevention efforts, authorities cannot act without clear legal foundations. If, for example, someones decision to refuse to cooperate leads to new infections, that person could be dealt with in accordance with the law.

A woman is taken out of her apartment in Vinh Phu Ward, Thuan An Town, Binh Duong for Covid-19 testing, September 28, 2021. Video courtesy of the Vinh Phu Ward authorities

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