According to reports, more than 50 million people residing in Wuhan and the nearby cities at the center of the outbreak have been prevented from leaving the cities by Chinese authorities with increasing anxiety and concerns about the outbreak of coronavirus in China and in a number of countries around the world. The lockdown however has put the challenge of supplying the necessary food and other materials for the people of the cities.
“Wuhan is not an isolated island,” declared a state newspaper, the Yangtze Daily.
Analysts point out the dare that the Chinese authorities have taken to restrict such a huge population which is larger than the population of South Korea and Australia. They said that this was possible because of the intense control over the Chinese on society that the Chinese Communist Party has as well as the experiences gained from the SARS outbreak in 2003.
Photos in Chinese media have showed that a handful of trucks were permitted to exit the 17 locked-down cities for collecting food for the people. Pictures showed drivers, clad in face covering masks being inspected for fever symptoms by policemen completely covered in white protective suits. Those truckers who do not have a permit are not allowed to leave.
Wuhan, an industrial city that has a population that is one and half times that of New York City, has all of its schools, cinemas and restaurants closed down. Local authorities have also closed down subway and bus services as well as plying of private vehicle in downtown areas in an effort to restrain people at home and reduce chances for infection.
Adequate supplies of vegetables, rice, meat and medical supplies have been promised by the government of Hubei province, where all the locked down cities are located. The local government has said that it is coordinating with retailers to bring in food products from places as far away as the Yunnan province situated in the southwest as well as from Hainan Island in the South China Sea. After a spike in food costs in the region, the local authorities conducted a severe crackdown on hoarding and price-gouging by merchants.
“Please do not panic, do not hoard, so as not to cause waste,” said a government announcement.
As on Friday, a total death toll of 213 people because of the virus was reported by China while a total of 9,692 confirmed cases of the virus were also reported from the country.
While the major and arterial roads in the locked down cities remain deserted according to Chinese media reports, not much details about how the authorities are preventing travelling on the smaller roads and villages situated on the outskirts of area was being ensured.
According to reports in local Chinese media, most of the supermarkets still have adequate food supplies, said local residents of the locked down cities when the media had contacted them over phone.
“They can meet our needs for the time being,” a 40-year-old father of two in Wuhan who was not named in a media report reportedly said.
(Adapted from APNews.com)