After a few Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases were reported in China’s northern regions, authorities swiftly implemented lockdown measures in these places. The lockdowns are part of a “zero tolerance” national policy, in which areas with reported outbreaks are instantly sealed off without consideration of economic or social costs.
On Oct. 18, China reported nine new domestically transmitted cases of COVID-19, five of which were from the northwestern city of Xian in Shaanxi province, while two were from Inner Mongolia. Authorities quickly took action to restrict movement in these regions.
In Xian, people arriving from outside the province are now asked to show proof of negative COVID-19 test results. Some tourist sites have been closed for disinfection.
In the Ejina Banner administrative division of Inner Mongolia, authorities began testing the population for COVID-19. All entry and exit points to Ejina have been shut down, and schools have been suspended.
Inner Mongolia’s Erenhot city has asked residents not to leave their homes unless absolutely necessary. Other than cars with official clearance, no one is allowed in or out of the city.
On Oct. 20, the Alxa Left Banner administrative division in Inner Mongolia imposed a lockdown on its 180,000 residents, all of whom must get tested. In the northwestern Gansu province, nine cases have been reported in the past week. The provincial capital of Lanzhou has suspended primary and high school classes.
A coronavirus case was also reported in Beijing on Oct. 19, which is the first official local case in the region since August. The infected person had apparently traveled from Gansu to Beijing by train on Oct. 15. During the journey, the person had slept in a bunk close to an infected individual.
“Various places have recently reported positive tests from tourists and their close contacts traveling from other provinces… The transmission chain is far-reaching, and our city has also had such cases. We would like to remind citizens that we cannot be lax with our control measures,” the Beijing health commission said in a statement.
Meanwhile, an Oct. 10 report by The Epoch Times claims that Beijing is preparing for potential large-scale outbreaks of COVID-19. Leaked internal documents obtained by the media outlet show that the Chinese government has asked local authorities to prepare for such outbreaks.
Two notices, one issued on Sept. 30 and another on Oct. 1, were distributed by the Fujian provincial government to local authorities. Both were marked as “extra urgent.” Local officials were instructed to build central isolation sites with at least 20 rooms per 10,000 people by the end of this month. Each isolation site must have over 100 rooms. Effectively, Fujian must build at least 83,000 COVID-19 quarantine rooms by October-end.
According to Sean Lin, a former virology researcher at the U.S. Army Research Institute, the notices show that the CCP is worried about a spike in the COVID-19 pandemic. He argued that Beijing must have been “concealing the true epidemic in the mainland,” or else it would not have issued instructions to boost emergency preparedness. Lin believes the real aim of COVID-19 management measures is to tighten the CCP’s control over people.
“You can be quarantined at any time and put in a quarantine site. And the quarantine sites can also be a place of political persecution… No matter who you are, as long as the CCP says that you tested positive in a nucleic acid test, it will deprive you of all your rights. The CCP’s quarantine sites are actually an alternative form of concentration camp,” Lin said.