China Lifts Travel Curbs in Hubei, While Residents Continue to Question Official Figures

China Lifts Travel Curbs in Hubei, While Residents Continue to Question Official Figures
A doctor looking at a patient's CT scan at a temporary hospital in Wuhan, China, on March 5, 2020. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)
Nicole Hao

China’s Hubei Province, epicenter of the CCP virus outbreak, on March 24 announced it will lift travel restrictions on people leaving the region.

The move came amid a five-day period from March 19 to March 23 where China’s National Health Commission reported no new infections of the CCP virus in Wuhan, where the virus originated.

Citizens on the ground have a different view.

The Hubei Health Commission announced it would lift transport restrictions and curbs on outgoing travelers starting March 25, provided they had a health clearance code.

Wuhan, which has been in total lockdown since Jan. 23, will see its travel restrictions lifted on April 8.

The announcement, reported by state-run news agency Xinhua, noted however that all schools in Hubei, including colleges, technical schools, high schools, middle schools, primary schools, and nurseries, would remain closed.

Schools have been closed since the end of the last semester prior to Lunar New Year on Jan. 25.

New Infections

On March 24, China’s National Health Commission announced four new domestic CCP virus infections. Those patients were from Wuhan, Beijing, Shanghai, and Foshan of eastern China’s Guangdong Province. The remaining cases reported were of imported infections.
State-run media The Paper reported that the Beijing and Shanghai cases were as a result of those patients being infected from a person who recently came back to China from overseas.
China News, a state-run media, reported that the case in Wuhan is a doctor from Hubei General Hospital.

“The doctor has been working in the hospital in recent days. We can’t rule out that the doctor was infected inside the hospital,” the report said.

The Guangdong case is a 51-year-old Hubei man who works in Foshan. On Jan. 15, the man went to his hometown—Xianning city in Hubei Province—for the Lunar New Year. On March 17, he left Xianning and arrived at Huizhou city in Guangdong with a friend and stayed there for two days.

On March 19, he went back to his home in Foshan and visited a hospital on the second day because of a fever. On March 23, he was reported as having been infected.

This case has alarmed Chinese netizens because Chinese authorities have claimed that there have been no new infections in Xianning for one month. Netizens have thus questioned where the man contracted the virus, with some suspecting that this is an indication that the outbreak in Xianning may still be severe.

Wuhan Residents Remain Skeptical

Chinese officials recently reported no new domestic infections in Wuhan City from March 19 to March 23. However, the Hubei provincial health commission confirmed on March 23 that relapsed patients and asymptomatic patients are not included in this count, drawing questions as to the reliability of this data.

Meanwhile, residents on the ground told The Epoch Times that they don’t trust the official figures.

“We know the situation from several channels; the new infections aren’t zero,” Mr. Wang, a resident in Wuchang district, Wuhan city, told the Chinese-language edition of The Epoch Times on March 23.

Wang said he knew many relapsed cases and new infections in Wuhan that weren’t reported by the government. He added that the relapsed cases were particularly alarming because he heard of many patients relapsing after recovering from the disease. Some of these people had been virus-free for more than a month, but recently relapsed.

On March 24, Luo Bin, a resident in Wuhan, said in his daily YouTube video that one of his aunt’s family members had relapsed recently.
State-run media People’s Daily reported on March 22 that all three members of a Wuhan family recently relapsed and were being treated at a hospital again. Among them, the 70-year-old parent was in critical condition.
On March 24, Zhang Yong, a Wuhan resident, told the Chinese-language edition of The Epoch Times: “[The government] is still trying to hide the truth. ... Two people from the residential compound I live in were diagnosed with the virus in the past two days. But they [the government] didn’t report.”

Zhang’s mother died of the virus in February, but wasn’t counted as a confirmed case because the hospital where she was diagnosed with the illness was not a designated hospital.

“My family has six members; two died of the virus. You know, many families in Wuhan lost all their members [to the virus],” Zhang said. “In my neighborhood, two children died of hunger after all their guardians died of the virus.”

Zhang said the devastation from the outbreak was taking a mental toll on residents.

“We, the survivors of the CCP virus, are facing issues such as how to make a living, how to stay safe, and other difficulties,” Zhang said. “More and more, people are struggling to cope with the pressure and fear.”

Nicole Hao is a Washington-based reporter focused on China-related topics. Before joining the Epoch Media Group in July 2009, she worked as a global product manager for a railway business in Paris, France.
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