A new outbreak and lockdown in China’s North East region of Dongbei is sending shockwaves through the nation, with authorities dismissing government and party officials, and with the Chinese Vice Premier being despatched to a major city affected.
The latest ‘Wuhan-style’ lockdown measures were reportedly prompted by the infection of a laundry worker, resulting in Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials reclassifying the area as “high risk” on May 10th.
The World Health Organization (WHO), which, at the onset of coronavirus, delayed notifying the world of human-to-human transmission and issuing a pandemic warning at the request of the CCP, has thus far failed to publish any information on the latest outbreak in China, which is now over 10 days old.
The CCP-run Global Times reported on the onset of the new outbreak: “Jilin had recorded 34 local cases as of Monday since May 7, including 19 from Shulan and 12 from Fengman district.”
Now, nearly two weeks later, the lockdown has been intensified, with reports of up to 40,000 new tests administered for residents.
At the time of writing, sources suggest there is no use of public transportation, taxis, or entrance of non-resident vehicles in the 700,000-strong city of Shulan, with information now trickling into Western media about a wider lockdown of up to 100 million people.
The city is in a “wartime” battle against the virus,” according to its mayor.
“Households from areas with no infections can appoint only one family member to go out to purchase essentials once every two days for a maximum of two hours,” rules state, and those who defy lockdown will be “severely punished.” Anti-fever medications are even banned in drugstores, preventing individuals from masking symptoms.
Reports from Chinese state media suggest “Northeast China’s Shulan City in Jilin Province has announced that it will re-impose “closed-off management” in all communities and villages” and the measures may be in place for weeks.
Videos reminiscent of Wuhan, the original epicenter of coronavirus, have surfaced, showing hazmat-clad medical professionals testing throngs of residents in Jilin.
While the CCP is keen to portray that it has a firm handle on the situation, the government has already reportedly removed officials and dispatched senior party apparatchiks in a bid to contain the situation.
State media reports on the removal of Jilin-based government officials including the Health Commission Deputy Director, Health Department Director, two members of the Disaster Prevention and Control Centers, and a state police official.
On May 15th, Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party’s local committee “was removed from his post, making him the first senior official in the city to be dismissed in wake of the rebound of the disease.”
A very senior member of the Chinese Communist Party and member of the CCP’s Politburo – Vice Premier Sun Chunlan – has been despatched to the region in a sure sign of the severity of the new outbreak.
Corby King and Natalie Winters contributed to this report