In an industrial park of Wuhan’s Huangpi District, many migrant workers have been stranded during the pandemic. Mr. Gao is one of the forty plus migrant workers left here, the majority of whom are middle-aged or elderly.
In addition to the life threatening virus, they also face starvation.
Reporter: What keeps you here?
Mr. Gao: Since the Chinese New Year when the lockdown began, no one can leave. At the beginning, we could still go to the supermarket. Since the new Party Secretary arrived, the restrictions are tighter and we can’t go to the supermarket.
Reporter: Do you have things to eat?
Mr. Gao: No. Since the Chinese New Year, all I have eaten is noodles. In the beginning, I was able to get some peanuts from the supermarket. It’s been over a month since I’ve been able to go out, since the arrival of the new Party Secretary. There’s nothing to buy. I have relied on cabbage and turnips left in the field. The cabbage has turned old.
Reporter: Why can’t you go out to shop?
Mr. Gao: The government won’t allow it. There are checkpoints. They will punish you by forcing you to attend a re-education class and give you a fine if they catch you. You can’t leave the class until you pay the fine.
I have called the mayor six times. He transferred my call to another department. Someone returned the call and said that this is not under their jurisdiction. They’re giving me the runaround. I have called repeatedly but in vain.
I really hate it. They just pass the call around and that’s it. It’s really disgusting.
There’s pork sold for 45 yuan ($6.34) per half a kilo. There is no work, we have not been able to make money. We are not civil servants who get regular pay.
The news said there’s subsidized pork at around 10 yuan ($1.41) for half a kilo. It sounded hopeful, but in reality there’s none.
Reporter: How many people are there stranded like you around here?
Mr. Gao: I think there are about 40-50. Most of them are old, no cell phone. They need my help to make calls. There are about 3-5 young men.
Reporter: If you go out, who would catch you?
Mr. Gao: There are police and volunteer patrols. Everyone has been talking about it. It’s not worth going out and get caught. They’ll isolate you with a fine.
Reporter: How much is the fine?
Mr. Gao: I would not go out. It’s said to be at least 150 yuan ($21.14) a day. We can’t even afford meat, not to mention money for the fine. We just stay here.
Reporter: The Wuhan government said there’s 3,000 yuan ($422.74) subsidized to people stranded like you. Can you apply for it?
Mr. Gao: I seemed to see the news, but we did not get it, honestly.
Anyway, I tried to ask them to send someone here to see that we are short of supplies. We are migrant workers with low expendable income. The meat is too expensive for us.
No one cares or treats us like humans.
Reporter: Have there been any signs of people going back to work in the nearby industries?
Mr. Gao: No work, none of that.
The rent is due. The power will be off soon. I need (money) to eat and shower. It’s hard.