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Security personnel lock down a residential block where a COVID-19 case was found in Hangzhou in eastern China's Zhejiang province Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2021.
Long Wei—Future Publishing/Getty Images

A Chinese man sought by the police for three years turned himself in after being unable to withstand the restrictions on life amid the government’s COVID-19 curbs.

A 42-year-old man gave himself up to the local police in the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou on Dec. 24 after he suffered severe travel restrictions because he didn’t have a health code, according to a report posted on Hangzhou police’s WeChat account Tuesday. The man was involved in a racketeering case and escaped from the police in 2018, the report said, without giving his name.

Confined to a hiding place, the man experienced increased mental stress and deteriorating health, the report said. He is in criminal detention now.

China launched a COVID contact-tracing mechanism across the country early in the pandemic, and continues to use stringent measures that include mass testing, traffic control and targeted lockdowns to contain the virus. A data-based “health code” system installed on residents’ mobile phones shows whether someone is at risk of being infected, thus cannot travel across regions or enter public areas.

Local authorities in eastern China’s Zhejiang province, where Hangzhou is located, and neighboring Shanghai tightened COVID prevention rules after a COVID resurgence hit the area in November.

This isn’t the first time China’s COVID-control measures brought in a fugitive.

A 48-year-old man from the western province of Gansu reported himself to Hangzhou police last year, citing restrictions on his activities without an identification card and health code, the China News Service reported on May 5, 2020. The man had fled police 24 years earlier for suspected homicide, according to the report.

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