Liu Jun (an alias) is a Wuhan native who works in Beijing. He returned to his hometown for the Chinese New Year in late January. Liu believes he may have been infected with the CCP virus during the lockdown, but luckily, he recovered from the symptoms. After the lockdown was lifted in Wuhan in April, he tried to go back to work. But he encountered obstacles due to Beijing’s strict rules in containing the virus which had re-emerged in the city. “I was thrown into another pandemic battlefield,” Liu said.
Wuhan Confirmed Thousands of New Cases in One Day
Liu travelled back to Wuhan from Beijing on Jan. 23, the day before the start of the Chinese New Year and when the city was locked down. “I can’t help it, that’s my home,” he said.
He began to experience symptoms of the CCP virus on Jan. 28 and sought medical treatment from local clinics that were designated for COVID-19 testing. Liu couldn’t get a diagnosis because there were no testing kits, so the doctor prescribed medication and told him to self-quarantine at home.
Liu didn’t want to go to a local hospital. “There were too many patients. People were packed in the hallway of the hospitals. It’s too dangerous to go to the hospital.”
According to an anonymous source who volunteered at a local makeshift hospital, Liu said the hospitals in Wuhan were full by the end of January as the newly confirmed cases increased by tens of thousands a day.
“On Feb. 12, new cases increased by 15,000, all confirmed. But there were no vacant beds,” he said.
Furthermore, Liu believes the official figures did not include those who were turned away by hospitals that had no beds for new patients or couldn’t get tested for the CCP virus.
Before mid-February, the outbreak began and the city was locked down. But people weren’t aware of the severity of the situation, and Liu said the night market remained open. Then soon after, residents were confined to their homes. “A day felt like a year,” Liu said.
The 24-hour Operating Crematoriums
Liu believes that the number of deaths was too high to estimate. Many have died of unconfirmed causes. He said, “I believe they were all killed by the coronavirus because the symptoms were all the same.”
A friend of Liu’s father is in the crematorium business. He told Liu that workers were paid more than 1,000 yuan ($141.52) for each corpse they brought to the crematorium. A worker can earn more than 100,000 yuan ($14,153) a week. Crematoriums were operating around the clock.
“There were also mobile cremators in the rural areas. Imagine how many corpses there were.” Liu said there were many corpses and people weren’t allowed to see their deceased relative for the last time, even if they were an immediate family member.
During the lockdown in Wuhan, families of those who died of the CCP virus were permitted to collect their relatives’ cremated remains from seven government-run funeral homes with crematoriums, beginning on March 23.
Liu estimated the deaths of unconfirmed cases were at least 20,000, which was also confirmed by the friend who operates a crematorium.
Arduous Journey Back to Beijing
Liu felt relieved when the lockdown in Wuhan was lifted on April 8, but it was difficult to return to his workplace in Beijing. “The rules were too harsh,” he said.
Local authorities imposed strict rules for people who wanted to return to Beijing. Only 1,000 people can enter the capital city per day. Before entering the city, people must first get tested for the virus. Then they submit their test result, which is valid for seven days, to the designated authorities so they can be put on an approval list. After getting an approval, they can buy a train or plane ticket, but this has to be done before the test results expire.
Liu was able to get a nucleic acid test on April 20. But he took the test multiple times because his results were repeatedly delayed. “I took the test five times. On June 3, I got my fifth test but still did not get the ticket.”
“But, what do you know? The restriction was off on June 6. We could return to Beijing directly with the test result. I was so excited.”
Liu returned to Beijing on June 7, and went back to work the following day. But new CCP virus cases were reported in the city on June 12.
“After five days of work, on the 12th, it was my birthday by the way, Beijing reported its outbreak. I was thrown into another pandemic battlefield,” said the disappointed Liu.
Discrimination Against the Virus Epicenters
Liu became accustomed to people’s negative reactions to his birthplace. “People would keep a distance from you, as far as five meters away, once they learn that you’re from Wuhan,” he said.
“Now it’s Xinfadi that would get people nervous.” Xinfadi food market is where the authorities attribute the source of the latest outbreak in Beijing.
Liu said his colleague was quarantined after he went to Xinfadi market. “His complex was blocked. He did the test and now he’s isolated at home. There’s a surveillance camera outside his home to prevent him from going outside. The camera was just installed.” He also said a camera would be installed at a hotel if it was designated as a quarantine site.
Looking back at the time he spent in Wuhan and Beijing for the past six months, Liu felt he never escaped the shadow of the pandemic. “What an unforgettable experience,” he said.
Fang Jing contributed to this report