While the Chinese probably thought they were ready for their grand reopening, COVID-19 had other ideas. A cluster of brand new cases has been discovered close to Wuhan. Shulan is 2,000 kilometers away and this is cause for alarm. Beijing is now ordered a wide-scale lockdown in order to put a stop to the spread.
The Jilin province will remain shut down for the foreseeable future. The lockdown has been in effect for the past few days but the news is just trickling out now. Over 100 million Chinese residents are going to be impacted. They are going to be facing all sorts of new restrictions on their economy and their movement.
Schools are closed, trains and buses are shut down and the new cluster of infections has threatened their return to normalcy. Many residents of the region thought that the worst was over and they are now forced to deal with the repercussions of these new infections. People are back to being cautious and children are being sent outside to play with their masks on.
The frustration is mounting. It is hard for people to exist in a state like this. Quarantine is one thing but when you have to cancel a reopen just as people are getting used to their normal existence again? It is easy to see why people are becoming furious. China may have thought that they had the outbreak contained but these new cases are disconcerting.
Will the luck that China has been enjoying in Beijing finally run out? Questions like these are only going to be asked more and more during the weeks to come. The flare-up comes at a terrible time for the Chinese. The Beijing Center for Disease Prevention and Control had just announced that people would no longer need to wear masks when they head outside.
The capital city had not experienced any new infections for a month, which bolstered their confidence. To make matters worse, they have had to delay the annual National People’s Congress meeting for months and there is no end in sight. Since this lockdown is so vast, it makes us wonder if we are being told the entire truth about this second wave.
Shulan may have a few dozen cases of their own but how many are currently taking place in Beijing? The Chinese are back to their old tricks, threatening anyone who is believed to be “spreading rumors”. If anyone speaks up about what is happening in the Jilin province right now, they could face serious reprisal.
Some 108 million people in China’s northeast region are being plunged back under lockdown conditions as a new and growing cluster of infections causes a backslide in the nation’s return to normal.
In an abrupt reversal of the re-opening taking place across the nation, cities in Jilin province have cut off trains and buses, shut schools and quarantined tens of thousands of people. The strict measures have dismayed many residents who had thought the worst of the nation’s epidemic was over.
People “are feeling more cautious again,” said Fan Pai, who works at a trading company in Shenyang, a city in nearby Liaoning province that’s also facing renewed restrictions. “Children playing outside are wearing masks again” and health care workers are walking around in protective gear, she said. “It’s frustrating because you don’t know when it will end.”
The same goes for anyone who is found to be in violation of the new quarantine rules. Criminal sanctions are being threatened against who does not adhere to the stay at home orders. The same goes for anyone who is found to be intentionally concealing their symptoms.
Of course, they are also including the “spread of rumors and misinformation” among the acts that are going to be punished. Here’s the thing about that: these threats sound awfully similar to the ones that were issued to people who were telling the truth about the initial wave. The Chinese government’s credibility is not exactly at an all-time high.
Their idea of what constitutes a rumor does not align with ours, that is for sure. The doctors who tried to speak out about Wuhan were silenced in the same way. We now know that they were not trying to spread rumors. They were simply trying to communicate the nature of the threat before it was too late.
Beijing probably wouldn’t be taking such strong actions if the outbreak was limited. Shulan’s highest-ranking Communist Party official was relieved of their duties as a result of the new outbreak. Any residential compound with a suspected case is going to be closed off and only one family member is allowed to leave their home for their essential supplies for a two-hour stint every 48 hours.
The news out of Wuhan isn’t exactly wonderful either. There are six new cases already and their 35 day streak without any new occurrences has been snapped. A lockdown has not been imposed on Wuhan yet but they are in the process of testing all 11 million residents.
If we had to guess, we would presume that the problems in China are much worse than they are letting on. Beijing is looking to suppress the release of any new information because of course they are. This situation is definitely worth monitoring. China may be forced to postpone the National People’s Congress meeting once again. This would be the most obvious sign that something is still amiss.