As COVID-19 outbreaks continue to worsen in the southern Chinese city of Guangzhou, there are signs that the local situation is much worse than Chinese authorities have admitted.
Chen Xi (a pseudonym), a resident in Guangzhou’s Panyu district, says panic has set in among residents in his neighborhood of Guangzhou, a port city in southern China’s Guangdong Province. He said that’s a major change from just days ago when the local outbreak wasn’t thought to be much of a concern, he told the Chinese-language Epoch Times in an interview on June 5.
Locals have emptied the shelves at local markets of vegetables and other staples, Chen said, which left him with few options. He added that all residents in his district were tested for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, the pathogen that causes COVID-19, on June 4.
Chen said he was told not to leave his residential district until his test result was known. He says he thinks the stay-at-home order was given because the number of infections is climbing substantially, contrary to what the Chinese authorities have reported.
Fueling his speculation is that he was told on May 30 by a local doctor at the Panyu Central Hospital that there could be more than 300 cases, but local health officials haven’t announced them.
As of June 5, health officials in Guangzhou—a city of about 15.3 million people—reported fewer than 100 cases of infection since May 21, considered the first day of the current cluster in Guangzhou. That day, officials said a 75-year-old local woman with the surname Guo had tested positive and determined that she was infected with the Indian variant of the CCP virus two days later on May 23.
Since then, Guangzhou health officials have attributed the majority of cases to be caused by the Indian variant, which is also identified as the “Delta” variant under a new naming system announced by the World Health Organization to avoid stigmatizing nations where variants were first detected.
Chen said the doctor also told him the virus was spreading very quickly, and there were many patients that didn’t show any symptoms of the virus such as fever, and it was the asymptomatic patients who were being excluded by the official infection statistics announced by Guangzhou officials.
Guangzhou is close to being in lockdown, Chen said, since much of the city’s public transportation, roads, and highways had been sealed off, and some hospitals had suspended outpatient services.
Guangzhou health officials have imposed tough measures to curb the local outbreaks, including having residents in the city’s 11 districts tested for the virus.
As of noon on June 7, residents in Guangzhou who wish to leave their area must provide proof of a negative COVID-19 test within the previous 48 hours.
One of the 11 districts, Nansha, went into lockdown from June 5, when district officials suspended local public transportation and closed roads, highways, and ports. A day earlier, Guangzhou officials said plans were being put together to distribute basic necessities such as meat, eggs, and milk using drones and self-driving vehicles to certain areas in the city.
Chen also questioned Guangzhou officials’ decision to suspend COVID-19 vaccination for locals.
“I asked a doctor who told me that there was a shortage of vaccines. This was quite strange. Before, eggs and money were being distributed asking people to get vaccinated. Now, as the outbreak gets worse, it should become more urgent for people to get vaccinated,” Chen said.
The suspension began on May 31 and city officials said the move was to prevent crowds from gathering to reduce the potential for transmission, according to China’s state-run media. Before the halt took effect, about 10.1 million people were vaccinated by May 31; among them, about 3.25 million completed the full vaccination regimen.
While crowds also gathered when people went to designated spots to be tested for the virus, that didn’t seem to be a concern for local officials, Chen said.
“A lot of people are talking about this. We don’t know what those officials are thinking. We cannot verify what they say,” he said.