Wuhan Resident Openly Criticizes Local Authorities’ Response to the Coronavirus Outbreak

January 28, 2020 Updated: January 28, 2020
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Wuhan’s city officials released a public statement on Jan. 22 to address the outbreak of the Wuhan pneumonia that sent fear and panic across the city. But one resident openly criticized the authorities in a letter that went viral on Chinese social media, expressing indignation over the way they’ve been handling the crisis.

The local health commission discovered in December a new type of coronavirus, also referred to as Wuhan pneumonia, and there is no cure. However, according to insiders, the health commission decided not to alert the public when the disease got out of control.

“Ever since a new coronavirus was discovered in Wuhan, a battle against the disease has been launched. Presently, a citywide disease control and prevention campaign has been deployed in an orderly manner. However, the overall situation of the disease is very serious. Everyone must share the responsibility to prevent  the virus from further spreading,” the public statement read.

A local woman responded to the statement in a letter, which was later posted on Chinese social media by an internet user.

“I am an ordinary citizen of Wuhan who loves this city very much. I work here and I am willing to contribute as much as I can to this city. However, I was appalled by the letter that Wuhan’s municipal Party Committee and municipal government wrote to the citizens. I believe I have the right to express my indignation.”

The woman criticized the authorities for calling the outbreak a “natural calamity” and pointed out their lack of oversight in wildlife animal trade, which is driven by demand for exotic delicacies and ingredients for traditional Chinese medicine.

“In your letter you said we cannot prevent the occurrence of a natural calamity. However, is it really a natural calamity? The culprit is the Huanan Seafood Market—it was in operation for a long time even though it ignored the rules and regulations. For how many years has the market been selling wild birds and mammals openly? Why is that you officials failed to spot what ordinary citizens get to see all the time? Why didn’t the Administration of Industry and Commerce perform its duty? What was going on with the public health commission and the inspection and quarantine department? ”

China prohibits the trafficking of a variety of wild animals, or requires special licenses, but the regulations for commercially farmed animals is less stringent.

Authorities say the coronavirus emerged from illegally traded wildlife in Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan. The market has been temporarily shut down since Jan. 1.

“The origin of the new coronavirus is the wildlife sold illegally in a Wuhan seafood market,” Gao Fu, director of China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told a briefing.

Some experts believe the virus was passed on to humans from snakes. But Chinese government medical adviser Zhong Nanshan has also identified badgers and rats as possible sources, The Associated Press reported.

China’s wildlife markets has also been the source of outbreaks of other infectious diseases in China and southeast Asia, including the virus responsible for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which killed nearly 800 people worldwide in 2003, according to The Associated Press.

The woman accused the authorities of covering up the outbreak, which resulted in the spread of the Wuhan pneumonia.

“At the beginning of the outbreak of Wuhan pneumonia, you [the authorities] claimed that it would not spread from human to human, and it later turned out to be very wrong. You claimed there were no deaths, and that was also wrong. You claimed there was not a single case of medical personnel being infected, which turned out to be wrong again! Don’t you feel ashamed? Is it really that difficult to tell the truth?”

“All supervision departments failed to perform their duty. These are the very reasons that the disease is getting out of control. Why should we citizens pay the price for their illegal practice and dereliction of duty?”

“Because of other people’s wrongdoing and negligence, we ordinary citizens now have to cancel our trips, and spend a lot of money on protection gear. Our lives have been put at risk!”

“Why do you expect us to bear the consequences? You [authorities] are very clever in trying to fool the people by blaming others and making excuses. You say we’re all in the same boat and in this together. But you won’t be able to get away with it. I am demanding an explanation from you!”

Censors have been monitoring the internet and detaining people who post information about the outbreak.

The Chinese communist regime has been ruling China with an iron hand. It is uncommon for an ordinary citizen to directly challenge the authorities.

Officials locked down Wuhan, a city of roughly 11 million in central China, on Jan. 23. Public transportation and airports were shut down. Residents were told not to leave unless they had special circumstances.

So far, altogether 13 cities have been locked down, affecting  41 million people. Beijing and Shanghai both suspended trans-provincial inbound and outbound buses.