While the Chinese Communist regime is busy projecting that the spread of the Wuhan coronavirus in the country is gradually on the wane, the residents of Wuhan, the epicentre of the deadly contagion that has ravaged hundreds of countries across the world and afflicted more than 2.1 million people globally with a staggering death count of 146,000+, believe that the number of deaths reported by China in its official count belies the havoc wreaked by the pandemic.
Angry with the communist party and Xi Jinping’s lackadaisical initial response in acknowledging and detecting the problem, those who witnessed the tragedy unravelling firsthand claim that the number of coronavirus victims is far greater than what the state has been quoting.
Fatalities count higher than the official tally: Wuhan residents say
Stephen Cheng, a 30-year-old Wuhan resident whose pregnant wife and father contracted the coronavirus, asserted that if the decision-makers had visited or consulted the frontline doctors about the extent of the spread, they would have known the actual count of the patients and realised the urgency of nipping the virus in its bud.
Cheng’s family exhibited symptoms of the novel coronavirus in late January, when panic shot through the streets of Wuhan, with fraught people seeking beds and testing kits overwhelmed the city’s hospital network. According to Cheng’s account, hundreds of potentially ill patients lined up the city’s 7 main hospitals, which according to him may have summed up to 10,000 cases on a conservative scale as compared to the official Chinese tally of 2,600 cases that was published a week later. Cheng believes that the death toll must be higher too, though he couldn’t provide the estimate, given the scale of the pandemic that continues to ravage the city.
Several other residents of Wuhan believe that the Chinese government has not been entirely truthful regarding the actual count of people who had died of the virus. Thousands of stacks of urn outside funeral homes in Hubei province had seeded doubts among the residents of Wuhan about the real tally of COVID-19 related deaths.
Mounting pressure from Chinese residents and the allegations of opacity from the international community over the suspiciously low count of deaths due to coronavirus had forced China to revise its official death toll. The new numbers, a 50 per cent increased in the previous count, has only added to the scepticism surrounding the accuracy of China’s coronavirus count. There are still strong suspicions that the actual number of infected and dead due to the Wuhan Coronavirus is far greater
Chinese residents seek explanation over the coronavirus fiasco
Besides the doubts over the real count of China’s coronavirus victims, residents in Wuhan are also wary of the efficacy of the government’s much-vaunted ‘Early Warning Disease- Control System’ that China developed in the aftermath of the SARS epidemic in 2002-2003. Residents are also searching for answers over why the whistle-blower doctors and scientists were mistreated and precluded from ringing the alarm bells about a possible outbreak of a highly contagious disease.
Tian, a sales representative for a drone company based out of Wuhan, is infuriated over the inexplicable behaviour of Chinese authorities in covering up the outbreak and in silencing the doctors who had detected the contagion in its early stage. He also raised concerns about why the ‘Early Warning Disease- Control System’ which was developed by spending millions of dollars, failed in alerting the officials about the imminent flare-up of the virus.
Another Wuhan resident, Wang, 26, was particularly miffed with the government’s obnoxious behaviour meted out to the whistle-blower red flag was Li Wenliang, an ophthalmologist who warned colleagues and friends in an online group about a number of “SARS-like” cases at his hospital. Li later contracted the disease and died in early February which served as a watershed moment in reshaping China’s response to the pandemic. Wang, who thinks that China’s authoritarian system had marginalised medical experts, believes that Li’s death may serve as a momentous event in altering the communist government’s attitude towards the medical practitioners.
Zhang Zhonglin, a hotel owner in Wuhan, is irked by the Chinese authorities for remaining tight-lipped about the lurking pandemic until January 23. “There were obviously a number of [Covid-19] cases in December and there were some whistle-blowers,” he said while adding, “There was definitely government inaction then, and we volunteered and acted on our own to help.”
Zhang, along with dozens of other hoteliers, opened up their hotel for free for doctors and nurses combating the coronavirus on frontlines. However, as the lockdown restrictions are gradually being lifted in Wuhan, Zhang and others like him are struggling in getting their businesses moving. They are bewildered as to why the government has not displayed any sympathy for them when they helped the government during the crisis.