Covid-19 Apr 03

Henan lockdown amid fears of second coronavirus wave

About 600,000 people allegedly locked down in Jia County, but local media are yet to report on this

Henan lockdown amid fears of second coronavirus wave
China has been looking at ways to get people back to work while also ensuring their safety. Photo: AFP

(ATF) About 600,000 Chinese people have been locked down in their homes in Jia County in Henan province after new coronavirus infections were reported, Al Jazeera reported yesterday. Henan is near Hubei province where the outbreak began.

This discovery has raised further fears of a second wave of infections in China as the government tries to encourage citizens to return to work.

Data has emerged from the US that up to 25% of people with the coronavirus do not show symptoms of the disease. China has vehemently stood by earlier figures and claims, saying the US is trying to politicise the global pandemic.

Currently China is saying most new coronavirus infections in the country stem from ‘imported’ cases – citizens such as students who had come home after travelling abroad. This is creating a rather xenophobic atmosphere in the country.

Today (April 3), the State Council’s joint coronavirus prevention and control team held a press conference to introduce science and technology innovations that support people returning to work so that the economy can operate in a stable manner, China Youth Daily reported.

Officials have said that from March 2 to 24, the 31 provinces, autonomous regions, municipalities, plus the Xinjiang Production and Construction Corps reported 31 new confirmed cases of the virus. They claim that 29 of these were 'imported' from abroad and 2 were local cases – one in Liaoning and one in Guangdong. At the same time, they said 163 people with the virus were cured and discharged, while 1,990 others who had close contact with them were under medical observation.

Local media silent

Today, the team said there were 710 confirmed cases, including 19 in a severe condition, "imported" from abroad, and 135 suspected cases. In a further lengthy statistical outpouring there was no mention of the Henan outbreak, as reported by Al Jazeera.

In the local newspapers in Henan, there is no mention of an outbreak, except news of a court hearing in the province involving Henan's first "imported" epidemic prevention and control case. The court pronounced judgement on Guo Moupeng, who was sentenced to one and a half years in prison.

With the combined threat of asymptomatic cases – citizens showing no sign of having the disease – and ‘imported’ cases, China has issued warnings to citizens to adhere to social distancing and not to eat in groups in the upcoming tomb sweeping festival.

It is still not widely understood how China controlled the outbreak in Wuhan, to the extent that only 3,300 people were recorded as dying of the Covid-19 disease before China got the virus in check.

Many smaller nations with much lower populations than China have reported a lot more deaths from the coronavirus than Beijing has. Also, in the outbreak center, Wuhan, eyewitnesses have said funeral urns transported from crematoriums number in multiple thousands in that one city alone.

Despite all this controversy, China's media remains relatively silent, though the People's Daily reports that it counted 64 new grey hairs on Chinese leader Xi Jinping since the outbreak started, according to one observer at the recent G20 video conference.