Xinjiang COVID-19 Outbreak Likely Worse Than What Authorities Revealed, Critics Say
The speedy testing has left some Beijing critics wondering if authorities were telling the full story about the latest outbreak.
After the two-day drive ended on Oct. 27, Kashgar authorities claimed there were 183 cases total. All of them were traced to Shufu county, where the first infection, a 17-year-old, was identified during routine testing, authorities said. Officials have linked the recent cases to a garment factory in the city’s outskirts, where the teen’s parents work.
Li Linyu, the Chinese Communist Party committee secretary of Kashgar’s health commission, maintained that all except for five were asymptomatic patients and that the latest cluster was unrelated to the July outbreak in Xinjiang’s capital Urumqi, which prompted a weeks-long lockdown in the region. Locals told The Epoch Times that they were forced to take drugs that officials claimed could prevent them from catching the virus.
The official data failed to convince Dilshat Rishit, spokesperson for the Munich-based World Uyghur Congress, a group advocating for the rights of the Muslim minority that has been severely persecuted by the Chinese regime.
News of the latest outbreak first became public after locals in Kashgar, alarmed by sudden flight cancellations and highway entrance closures, promulgated the information on Chinese social media.
The same day, local police put out a post asking the public to “not believe nor spread rumors,” Rishit noted. The police quickly deleted the post within hours without explanation, baffling netizens.
“The CCP (Chinese Communist Party) had taken to covering things up from the beginning, and they only reveal the data when it’s impossible to hide, like squeezing toothpaste out of a tube,” he said in a recent interview. “No one trusts the official announcements,” he added.
Chinese affairs commentator Wu Te used the analogy of “opening the lid of a high pressure cooker.” Authorities had released the virus data only after the public grew anxious and asked questions about the latest outbreak, he said. “The true situation is definitely worse than what the local authorities have said. They could no longer keep it under the lid,” he said.
Kashgar is among several cities in Xinjiang where prison-like detention camps were built to incarcerate Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities. Rishit expressed concern for detainees who would be vulnerable should the virus break out inside such facilities.
Kashgar has suspended classes from kindergarten up to middle school until Oct. 30.
When contacted by The Epoch Times’ sister media NTD, the Union Hospital in Shufu county said it has become a designated quarantine center and no longer accepts patients.
“You need to call the hospital director to inquire about this matter [the outbreak[,” the staff member said over the phone.
While the People’s Hospital, also in Shufu county, is still taking patients, a hotel near the site said local residents have been confined to their living quarters and not allowed to come out.
Multiple Chinese cities and regions have imposed a two-week quarantine rule for travelers coming from Kashgar.
Luo Ya and Xiao Lüsheng contributed to this report.