The Chinese government announced a new policy in Wuhan Friday to isolate individuals testing positive for the novel coronavirus ravaging the city in what the New York Times is calling “quarantine camps.”
The senior Chinese official tasked with coronavirus response reportedly ordered Wuhan authorities to “set up a 24-hour duty system” to prevent further spread of the deadly coronavirus.
“During these wartime conditions, there must be no deserters,” Sun Chunlan said, “or they will be nailed to the pillar of historical shame forever.”
The city has raced to comply with the order, erecting makeshift “mass quarantine shelters,” including one in a sports stadium, an exhibition center, and a building complex.
Wuhan is a city of 11 million people. It has already been on “lockdown” – a shutdown of public transportation, flights, and most usage of roads in and out of the city – for over a week to prevent the virus from spreading in the rest of the country. Local officials in Wuhan enacted the lockdown after an estimated five million people had left the city for the Lunar New Year holiday, according to the city’s mayor, so it is not clear if the measures have successfully stopped the virus from spreading. All 31 Chinese provinces have documented coronavirus cases.
According to the New York Times, Wuhan residents on Weibo, the highly censored but legal Chinese social media platform, have denounced the camps as frigid and in “very poor condition.”
“Doctors and nurses were not seen to be taking note of symptoms and distributing medicine,” a Weibo post claimed.
Wuhan’s lockdown has already caused a shortage of testing kits, hospital beds, and vital medical supplies. Residents have been forced to walk the streets to reach hospitals, but many have been turned away without so much as a test for the virus ravaging the isolated city.
The building of camps in another region of China may prove alarming to human rights activists that have already been denouncing the Communist Party for years for its use of concentration camps to eliminate the existence of Muslims, particularly ethnic Uyghur Muslims, in far-west Xinjiang province — where coronavirus statistics are a “state secret.” The Pentagon has estimated that as many as three million people are currently trapped in concentration camps in Xinjiang for being Muslims or otherwise threats to the Han supremacist communist state. Survivors have described murder, rape, indoctrination, slavery, forced sterilization, organ harvesting, and other human rights atrocities as taking place in the camps.