China’s President Xi Jinping on Saturday convened a meeting of country’s top health and political officials, in a bid to combat the spread of the new coronavirus, which is said to have reached epidemic proportions. “We are sure to be able to win in this battle to beat the epidemic through prevention and control,” Xi was quoted as saying in the state media, as per unofficial translations of his remarks.
Meanwhile, travel restrictions have been imposed on the residents of Beijing as 15 new deaths were reported from Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus. The government’s official death count stands at 41, with the total number of infection cases pegged at almost 1,300.
Additionally, all 72 train stations in the Hubei province have reportedly been closed down and restrictions are now even in place in the Sichuan province.
More to coronavirus than meets the eye
In contrast to what the government has been claiming as far as the spread of the infection and the casualties are concerned, information leaking out of China through independent testimonies portrays an alarming picture of the epidemic.
According to an available account, 90,000 persons so far have been quarantined with the new coronavirus, a number much higher than the official figures released by China.
In what points towards Chinese government’s attempts to put a lid on the real extent of the outbreak, German broadcaster Deutsche Welle’s (DW) East Asian correspondent William Yang tweeted that hospital staff in all Wuhan hospitals were “forbidden” to discuss the latest developments about the virus’ outbreak even with their closed ones. Yang said that the advisory had been issued to all the hospital workers in Wuhan.
“Anyone who leaks sensitive information about coronavirus would be punished by law,” he said in another tweet. He also reported a lingering fear among residents of Wuhan that the government could snap their internet connections to keep the information on the outbreak from spreading to other places.
What’s more alarming is that despite China’s claims that they have everything under control, medical supplies at Wuhan’s hospitals are running out and grocery supplies are running dry.
A leaked voice message from WeChat paints even a more dismal picture of the actual situation on the ground. The voice clipping features a Chinese medic appealing to the person at the other end to “never trust the government.”
“They are dying in front of our eyes,” she can be heard saying, struggling to control her tears. “Each of us doctors is treating more than ten patients a day… Many won’t be able to make it… There are hundreds of people who have been affected,” she can be heard saying in a choked voice.
She is also heard saying, “More than 100,000 persons have been affected and the government is not providing medical supplies.”
The Chinese Embassy in New Delhi has been reached out for a comment.