Community-wide infections were reported after tens of thousands of people attended an annual banquet in a populous district in Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. Residents revealed that the district authorities are covering up the true scale of infections.
The banquet was held in the Baibuting community of Wuhan on Jan. 18, to celebrate the Chinese New Year. More than 40,000 families attended the banquet. However, three days before the event, the neighborhood committee staff asked the local authorities to cancel the gathering over fears of the coronavirus, but the authorities refused their request, according to a Feb. 12 report by The Epoch Times’ sister media NTD.
Baibuting is one of the largest communities in Wuhan, according to China Community Network (cncn.org.cn), the country’s largest community portal site. More than 130,000 people live in the community, which consists of a cluster of 16 residential compounds with high-rise buildings.
According to locals who spoke with the Chinese-language Epoch Times, scores of people have been infected with the COVID-19 virus after attending the banquet.
— william woo (@williamwoo7) January 21, 2020
A Desperate Plea
A resident recently sent out a desperate plea over Chinese social media, which caught the public’s attention. He said the infection in the Baibuting community was so severe that many people had died, and his family had been quarantined in a hotel.
The resident posted a message on his Weibo account on Feb. 10, saying he was “writing in desperation” and the community was in a “a state of neglect.” He said many people contracted the coronavirus after attending the banquet, and “the number of infections is higher than the official estimates, and the Jiangan district government is afraid to report the actual figures.”
He also wrote, “There are a lot of people infected in Baibuting, but the authorities regulated that each grid [unit of community] can only have one diagnostic test a day. A large number of suspected patients are still at home, instead of being quarantined in a hospital. There are even critically ill patients running around the streets for help.”
“We Baibuting residents are in despair. Please help us!” he wrote.
The resident said he had called the mayor’s hotline and sent messages through the State Council’s webpage for epidemic prevention and control, detailing the plight in his community. But he said his “efforts are useless” as he has not received a response.
His post has been widely shared on social media at home and abroad, with more than 29 million views. But the authorities deleted the post less than a day after it was shared online.
On Feb. 11, the Chinese-language Epoch Times spoke with a resident of the Baibuting community, surnamed Wu. He told the publication that the outbreak is very serious and a lot of people have died.
Wu said that three of his family members are being quarantined in a hotel. He also had symptoms of the virus, but his health recovered. “I’m okay now. I managed to beat it,” he said.
Wu did not know how he got infected with the coronavirus. “You can be infected everywhere. You can get it on the street, on the bus, in the supermarket, and you can get it by not wearing a mask.”
According to Wu, many people are infected in the community every single day, and the official data is inaccurate.
“Some infections were not reported. The local hospital is full. There aren’t that many beds. Those who are waiting for a bed are told that they will get notified when they can be admitted into the hospital. Some patients can only be quarantined and treated at home. Those who can be cured may survive, and those who cannot get treatment will die. Official figures say Wuhan has two to thirty thousand people infected. It’s actually a lot more than that.”
A netizen who lives in the same community also made similar comments online. “All my relatives in Baibuting have been infected even though they haven’t been outside recently. One of them self-quarantined in a room that used to be the family’s study room,” he wrote in his blog.
Another netizen wrote in a post, “My friend’s father, who also lives in Baibuting, didn’t go to the ‘Ten Thousand Family Banquet’. He just went to the Baibuting Food Market around Jan. 20 and bought a dish and he also got infected.”
According to the local notices posted in the community, since Feb. 4, a number of compounds in the community have been reporting patients with fevers. For instance, 33 of the 55 buildings in “Anju Compound” have reported fever patients; 17 of the 36 buildings in “Lily Compound” have reported fever patients. “Yikang Compound,” with a total of 3,779 residents, has found at least 10 diagnosed patients and more than 40 suspected cases up until noon on Feb. 4. “Kanghe Compound,” with 1,800 households and more than 12,000 people, has identified more than 30 fever patients on Feb. 4.
The Chinese Regime Prioritizes ‘Stability’ Over Safety
Another Baibuting resident, surnamed Li, has been monitoring the COVID-19 virus outbreak closely and spoke with the Chinese-language Epoch Times. He said the Baibuting community has been hit hard by the coronavirus and the outbreak is associated with the banquet, “The result of the banquet was that the many people got infected by the virus in just one week, and now it has spread. Those who got infected at the banquet are now spreading the virus within this populous community. It’s very serious. Now the community has been closed. Thousands of people were infected at the same time. There are not enough hospitals to treat them! ”
Li estimated from the aforementioned local notices that thousands of residents in the community have been infected so far, adding that in two high-rise buildings, almost all households have contracted the virus.
Li said that so many people have died from the virus, yet the authorities prioritize “safeguarding stability.” “It’s getting so serious now, but they are still hiding the true scope. We can no longer get access to the real information inside Fangcang, the makeshift hospitals. Many suspect that all patients’ mobile phones have been confiscated. Otherwise, their friends and relatives would be getting their messages and videos every now and then. Now there is no news from them whatsoever.”
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) always focuses on “maintaining social stability,” which takes the form of suppressing and hiding any information that may damage the Party’s image.
Since Feb. 5, the Wuhan government began sending coronavirus patients with mild or moderate symptoms to makeshift hospitals called “fangcang.” The authorities had these facilities built in just a few days and have been set up in over a dozen stadiums, school gyms, and exhibition centers across the city.
Some netizens claim that from Jan. 30 to Feb. 3, the mortality rate had been 2.1 percent, based on the tally of confirmed cases and deaths at that time.
Since the beginning of January, CCP officials and the experts in charge have been saying that “the outbreak can be prevented and controlled.” But since the outbreak has spread throughout the country and to dozens of other nations, can it still be prevented and controlled? U.S.-based Commentator Yuan Bin said the Chinese authorities cannot control the coronavirus outbreak, but they can manipulate the numbers of new cases and deaths.