China Accused of Sending People to Quarantine Camps before the Winter Olympics
China has reportedly set up quarantine camps that withhold at least 20 million people weeks ahead of the Winter Olympics. Several videos that have been recently posted show staff fully covered in white protective clothing standing beside row upon row of small white bungalows lined up on the grounds of what appears to be a sports stadium. Additional footage claims to be from within one of the cell-like buildings, with the occupant showing just a bare-framed bed and a small, dirty bathroom. Another clip that went viral on Chinese social media shows staff, in the same protective clothing, leaving trays of food on shelves posted outside the prefab units.
According to one Twitter user, “millions” have been moved to the camps, mostly in Xi’an. The major industrial city of over 13 million has been on lockdown since before Christmas, despite 95 percent of its adults being fully vaccinated, it has reported just three COVID-related deaths throughout the pandemic, the New York Times noted. As of Monday, Xi’an had reported no deaths in the latest wave of cases, with the last one being in March 2020, yet over 45 thousand people have been moved to quarantine facilities, the paper claimed.
“There is nothing here, just basic necessities… Nobody has come to check upon us,” one Weibo user wrote whilst inside one of the units. The poster claimed that “more than a thousand people” were forced into the camps in the middle of the night, including children and pregnant women.
China has been known for its draconian “dynamic zero-case policy” that immediately shut down whole cities after even minor outbreaks ever since the coronavirus was first detected in Wuhan in late 2019. It has recently intensified such measures, both from the sudden surge of Omicron cases as well as pressure to ensure that the nation is ready for Beijing to host the Winter Olympics starting Feb 4, 2022.
Asian News International reported “growing public frustration and anger” at officials “doggedly going after every virus case no matter the emotional or economic costs.” The hashtag “hard to obtain food in Xi’an” is trending on Weibo, China’s legal version of Twitter and those breaking the rules face “swift and sometimes bloody” consequences, the agency said.
Officials were forced to apologise after one man was shown being beaten by guards as he tried to get food. Furthermore, a man suffering chest pains also died of a heart attack because hospital employees refused to admit him because he lived in a medium-risk district. A bleeding, pregnant woman lost her child because medics refused to help her because her COVID test was invalid, the reports accounted.
In the 24 hours before Wednesday, China announced 166 new cases of COVID-19, with just eight in Xi’an. Despite this, the ruling party has defended its ruthless measures, insisting that they're the key reason for the nation largely avoiding the millions of infections seen elsewhere.
Sun Chunlan, the Vice Premier of China, even called for measures to be stepped up across the country. “It is necessary to do a good job in guaranteeing the living needs of the people in the closed and controlled communities, ensure the basic medical needs of the people during the epidemic period, and ensure that the people’s demands can be responded to and resolved in a timely manner,” he quotes as saying.