Author of The Blackout Book and the online course Bloom Where You’re Planted
The coronavirus is rapidly spreading through China despite efforts to slow it down and the lengths that the Chinese government is going to appear to be nothing short of dystopian. Millions upon millions of people have been quarantined or isolated, but the spread of the virus appears not to have slowed down.
Of course, the problem is, China has been so secretive we’re left to rely on leaked videos and desperate messages from anonymous sources to find out what’s actually happening. So while I believe the stories in this article are probably true, it’s important to note that it is impossible to vet these sources thoroughly.
China’s leader, Xi Jinping, has ordered a crackdown on anyone who is caught undermining efforts to contain the virus.
He also said that officials would take aim at those who resist epidemic prevention and control efforts, including by spreading false rumors. (source)
It wouldn’t be a stretch of the imagination to think that someone sharing information that Mr. Xi doesn’t want out could be accused of “spreading false rumors.” Anyone leaking information from China could potentially face dire consequences – and if they aren’t punished their families might be. With this in mind, it’s no surprise those who are sharing videos with the rest of the world want to remain anonymous.
What it’s like in Wuhan
One citizen journalist, Chen Qiushi, is reporting from inside Wuhan. You can follow him on Twitter here. To see the translations, simply click on a Tweet and the option to have it translated to English is available.
In a video blog published on YouTube on Jan. 30, a week into his reporting trip, an emotional Chen described how helpless people filled hospitals that were struggling to admit them, and showed footage of a woman next to a dead man in a wheelchair making desperate phone calls for help to move her relative’s body. The videos have drawn attention on Chinese social media, even though YouTube is blocked there and requires special software to access, as well as outside China.
“I, for the first time, really started to feel scared,” Chen said in the video. He also spoke about whether he felt pressure from the authorities over his videos, but declared, “I’m not afraid of dying, why should I be afraid of you, Communist Party ?” (source)
In an interview with Quartz, Chen shared some of the things he has witnessed.
The situation is still severe… I have been to four Wuhan hospitals, and even the construction site of Huoshenshan, the temporary hospital China built for admitting the patients. In the beginning, there were not many people in hospitals. But after I met more local youngsters, I heard from them that the situation is still severe. They do not have enough testing kits, beds, and doctors are extremely overwhelmed. Workers and their leaders at the construction sites for the new hospitals are exhausted too…
…Some continued with their normal life, despite being a bit bored or feeling depressed, but they were not panicking. But for those who were suspected to have the virus, they were very very anxious and some went online calling for help. I also saw people who did not care about the issue at all and did not wear face masks…
Prices of goods are staying stable. For myself, I bought bread and milk, and can still order food deliveries. I can use a Mobike and some friend lent me an electric motorcycle. For ordinary citizens, they can either ride electric motorcycles, or order taxis mobilized by their residential communities. But it is difficult to book taxis because of the small number of them… (source)
Others report food shortages, however.
When the lockdown was first announced, people began to stockpile food and resources in a desperate attempt to sustain themselves amid an unprecedented quarantine.
A woman from New Zealand, who was in Wuhan to visit her father for the Lunar New Year, told NewsHub about the conditions.
“It’s quite scary here,” she said. “There’s all kinds of rumors online and there’s a shortage of medical supplies. If we go outside, we cannot buy masks anywhere.
“There’s also a shortage of food,” she added. “A lot of shelves are empty.” (source)
The NY Times reports:
In the mornings, Wuhan is so quiet that bird calls sound down once busy streets. Stray dogs trot in the middle of empty expressways. Residents wrapped in masks creep out of their homes, anxiety flitting across their eyes.
They line up at hospitals overwhelmed by a virus that most had not heard of until a few weeks ago.
They line up outside pharmacies despite the door signs declaring they have sold out of protective masks, disinfectant, surgical gloves and thermometers. They line up to buy rice, fruit and vegetables from food stores that keep operating, while nearly all other shops are closed.
Then they shuffle home to wait out this 21st-century siege. The unluckiest ones lie at home or in a hospital, stricken by pneumonia fevers that could spell death linked to coronavirus 2019-nCoV.
“I’ve started to lose track of the days,” said Yang Dechao, a burly 34-year-old factory worker trapped in Wuhan. “Is it Sunday or Monday? You forget because all normal activity has stopped. Ordinary people have just their families and their phones.”
Soothing recorded messages playing over loudspeakers say that the government cares, and admonish residents to wear masks and minimize outings… (source)
A teacher shared her story of despair, fear, and hopelessness while under quarantine with Al Jazeera.
Millions of us have been put under quarantine for seven days now, and all of this still feels surreal.
These days, I have been doing the same things over and over again: eat, sleep, eat, and the cycle continues.
All entertainment shows have also been cancelled by the government, and that leaves only the news about the virus playing on a loop on TV. Every aspect of my life is constantly reminding me of a single fact – the virus outbreak is still very real. (source)
And this is life for people who are not sick.
Hospitals are turning people away.
There are numerous reports that hospitals are turning away all but the most seriously ill. This is likely one cause of the questionable numbers coming out of China. If a patient isn’t confirmed to have the virus, he isn’t counted. And if a sick person is turned away from the hospital, then he certainly can’t be confirmed to have the virus, can he?
Designated hospitals in the Chinese city at the center of a coronavirus outbreak started taking only severe or critical patients, as more Chinese cities imposed restrictions on movement to help contain the fast-spreading pathogen that has killed more than 560 people…
…The medical system in China’s Hubei province, where the virus broke out in Wuhan, the capital, in December, has been overwhelmed by the virus, and front-line staff have been forced to turn patients away as authorities race to build new hospitals…
…Hu Lishan, a local Communist Party official, said at a press conference Wednesday night that many patients confirmed to have the coronavirus hadn’t been admitted to hospitals designated for virus treatment because of a lack of available beds. The situation was distressing and painful, he said. (source)
Hospital staff are so overwhelmed they’ve begun wearing adult diapers – not only because they don’t have time to go to the bathroom but also because they don’t want to run the risk of damaging their hazmat suits. Meanwhile, hospitals have been turning away patients for weeks because there are no tests and there are no beds.
According to this shocking video posted on Twitter, it appears that corpses are stacked up amidst living patients in a hospital.
— 自由亚洲电台 (@RFA_Chinese) February 4, 2020
There are many reports of sick people being denied care and testing, and being sent home to “self-quarantine.”
A lockdown across the city and much of its surrounding province has exacerbated a shortage of medical supplies, testing kits and hospital beds for those sickened by the coronavirus. Many residents, unwell and desperate for care, have been forced to go from hospital to hospital on foot, only to be turned away from even being tested for the virus, let alone treated. They have had to resort to quarantines at home, risking the spread of the virus within families and neighborhoods. (source)
Officials are rounding up sick people.
While hospitals are unable to care for more patients, this hasn’t stopped officials from rounding up sick people in a frighteningly authoritarian manner. Sick people are being referred to as “The Infected” and it seems like something out of a horrifying movie.
A person shared a video he shot from his apartment window of a “suspected infected” being chased by authorities.
Wuhan, Evergreen Community
A suspicious infected is being chased by a group of policemen. People are reluctant to go to the designated Fire God Mountain Hospital because it is like jail. You never know if you can still come back https://t.co/sPPx4S3j7F
— FAISAL AZIZ (@Faisal0343Aziz) February 5, 2020
The government of China is now going door-to-door to search for infected people.
A senior Chinese official has ordered the authorities in the city of Wuhan to immediately round up all residents in the city who have been infected with the coronavirus and place them in isolation, quarantine, or in designated hospitals.
Sun Chunlan, a vice premier tasked with leading the central government’s response to the outbreak, said city investigators should go to each home to check the temperatures of every resident and interview infected patients’ close contacts.
“Set up a 24-hour duty system. During these wartime conditions, there must be no deserters, or they will be nailed to the pillar of historical shame forever,” Ms. Sun said.
The city’s authorities have raced to meet these instructions by setting up makeshift mass quarantine shelters this week. (source)
Note that these quarantine shelters are not hospitals.
But concerns are growing about whether the centers, which will house thousands of people in large spaces, will be able to provide even basic care to patients and protect against the risk of further infection. (source)
They’re taking a page out of the Hurricane Katrina handbook and using sports arenas to house the less seriously ill.
The city has set up makeshift shelters in a sports stadium, an exhibition center and a building complex. Some went into operation on Thursday. The shelters are meant for housing coronavirus patients with milder symptoms, the government has said…
…Photos taken inside the Hongshan sports stadium showed narrow rows of simple beds separated only by desks and chairs typically used in classrooms. Some comments on Chinese social media compared the scenes to those from the Spanish flu in 1918.
A widely shared post on Weibo, a popular social media site, said on Thursday that “conditions were very poor” at an exhibition center that had been converted into a quarantine facility. There were power failures and electric blankets could not be turned on, the user wrote, citing a relative who had been taken there, saying that people had to “shiver in their sleep.”
There was also a staff shortage, the post said, where “doctors and nurses were not seen to be taking note of symptoms and distributing medicine,” and oxygen devices were “seriously lacking.” (source)
And you’re going whether you want to or not.
When Ms. Sun inspected one of the shelters, set up in Hongshan Stadium on Tuesday, she emphasized that anyone who should be admitted must be rounded up, according to a Chinese news outlet, Modern Express. “It must be cut off from the source!” she said of the virus. “You must keep a close eye! Don’t miss it!” (source)
Let’s be honest – it sounds like the “quarantine shelters” are where they take people to die.
People are being sealed into their apartments.
According to the BBC, people are being imprisoned in their own homes.
…shocking videos have been shared on social media in China showing residents being barricaded inside their own homes by groups of people using wooden boards and nails to keep their doors shut and prevent them from leaving.In one shocking video a metal bar appears to have been welded across a resident’s front door with gap wide enough that food can be handed to residents, but too small for them to leave.
One person shared footage online writing: “Two videos show all floors of a residential building in Jiangsu-China were blocked by welding fence because a confirmed case found in it.”
Another person said residents were being imprisoned in their own homes “by the police,” sharing several videos of workmen sealing up doors with warning signs next to them. (source)
Here’s a video of authorities welding closed the gates to an apartment block.
And this Tweet shows a floor in a residential building being closed off by welded bars.
Two videos show all floors of a residential building in Jiangsu-China were blocked by welding fence because a confirmed case found in it. #2019nCoV #WuhanCoronavirus #WuhanVirus pic.twitter.com/C5i4UMltjl
— 𝓟𝓪𝓬𝓸 🇸🇬 (@PacoHk) January 29, 2020
And here’s one more Tweet with a video of an allegedly infected person’s door being welded shut, trapping them inside.
— Pete (@NYBackpacker) January 31, 2020
Dead people are being taken straight to crematoriums.
There are many rumors that suggest crematoriums are running day and night to dispose of bodies – many of which were never tested for the coronavirus. This, of course, casts extreme doubt on the number of deaths by the virus being publicly admitted by China.
Zero Hedge reports:
Last Saturday, Radio Free Asia (RFA) tweeted a disturbing video detailing how those who died of coronavirus were loaded up on a bus and taken “directly to the crematorium.”
…DW News East Asia correspondent William Yang cited a report from the Chinese-language news outlet Initium, which said cremation facilities in Wuhan were receiving bodies directly from hospitals without proper identification and were excluded from the official record…
…State-run Global Times tweeted last week that “victims should be cremated close by and immediately. Burials or transfer of the bodies not allowed. Funerals not allowed to avoid spread of the virus.” (source)
For the record, even the Wall Street Journal suggests the death toll is inaccurate, citing numerous relatives who reported the death certificates of their loved ones cited pneumonia as the cause of death instead of coronavirus.
This is a nightmare, covered by a blanket of lies.
It would be incredibly difficult to convince me that we’re getting the truth from China, something I’ve noted since this outbreak first appeared on our radar in the US.
Would China be resorting to these extreme and dystopian measures if only 300 people or so had died? Would crematoriums be running non-stop if only 300 people had died? Would they be willing to take this massive hit to their economy and their global reputation if only 300 or so people out of 1.3 billion had died?
It’s possible that a news outlet called Tencent “accidentally” posted the real numbers last Saturday for just a few seconds.
But the biggest hit to the narrative and China’s officially reported epidemic numbers came overnight, when a slip up in China’s TenCent may have revealed the true extent of the coronavirus epidemic on the mainland. And it is nothing short than terrifying.
As the Taiwan Times reports, over the weekend, “Tencent seems to have inadvertently released what is potentially the actual number of infections and deaths, which were astronomically higher than official figures“, and were far closer to the catastrophic epidemic projections made by Jonathan Read.
According to the report, late on Saturday evening, Tencent, on its webpage titled “Epidemic Situation Tracker”, showed confirmed cases of novel coronavirus (2019nCoV) in China as standing at 154,023, 10 times the official figure at the time. It listed the number of suspected cases as 79,808, four times the official figure.
And while the number of cured cases was only 269, well below the official number that day of 300, most ominously, the death toll listed was 24,589, vastly higher than the 300 officially listed that day.
Moments later, Tencent updated the numbers to reflect the government’s “official” numbers that day.
This was not the first time Tencent has done this: as Taiwan Times notes, Chinese netizens have noticed that Tencent has on at least three occasions posted extremely high numbers, only to quickly lower them to government-approved statistics.
This is where it gets even more bizarre: contrary to claiming that this was just a “fat finger” mistyping of data, observant Chinese netizens also noticed that each time the screen with the large numbers appears, it shows a comparison with the previous day’s data which demonstrates a “reasonable” incremental increase, much like comparisons of official numbers. (source)
Since this is the 4th time this has happened, who thinks that someone at Tencent is trying to get the REAL numbers out into the world?
If their “oops” numbers are correct, as of Saturday there were:
Confirmed cases: 154,023 (Officially: 14,446)
Suspected Cases: 79,808 (Officially: 19,544)
Cured cases: 269 (Officially: 351)
Death Toll: 24,589 (Officially: 304)
This would sure make a lot more sense than the party line, considering the measures the Chinese have taken to corral the virus.
Whatever the truth is, we can be assured that the situation in China is ugly. We do know that people are being forcibly quarantined, medical care is only available for a small percentage of sick people, infected people are being rounded up, dead people are being rapidly cremated, and there is a shortage of supplies.
While this virus has mostly hit mainland China, there are enough cases outside the mainland for the World Health Organization to declare a global emergency. At this point, the United States has only a handful of confirmed cases, but preparations are being made for a much larger outbreak, such as hospital staff being prepped with protocols and declaring a public health emergency.
Never think for a moment that dystopian measures can’t happen here.
Your best bet is to be prepared to self-quarantine if the virus takes hold in the United States as it has in China. It’s pretty clear that Chinese citizens cannot rely on their government to protect them. It wouldn’t take that many cases for our medical system here to become completely overwhelmed.
As with most crises, the only person you can truly rely on is yourself.
Daisy Luther is a coffee-swigging, globe-trotting blogger who writes about current events, preparedness, frugality, voluntaryism, and the pursuit of liberty on her website, The Organic Prepper. She is widely republished across alternative media and she curates all the most important news links on her aggregate site, PreppersDailyNews.com. Daisy is the best-selling author of 4 books and runs a small digital publishing company. You can find her on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.