Business Insider Edition

Chinese officials are only letting people leave their homes every 2 days and have forbidden weddings and funerals

Rhea Mahbubani , Business Insider US
 Feb 09, 2020, 04:54 PM
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 02: Travelers arrive to
Travelers arrive to LAX Tom Bradley International Terminal wearing medical masks for protection against the novel coronavirus outbreak on February 2, 2020 in Los Angeles, California. The United States has declared a public health emergency and will implement strict travel restrictions later today. Foreign nationals who have been in China in the last two weeks and are not immediate family members of U.S. citizens or permanent residents will be barred from entering the U.S. Meanwhile, about 195 U.S. citizens who were evacuated from China to March Air Reserve in California are under under quarantine at the base, prohibited from leaving until it is determined that they will not develop symptoms of the disease. (Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)
  • In an effort to control the coronavirus, officials in the Chinese province of Zhejiang are enforcing restrictions that are almost draconian.
  • In the cities of Wenzhou, Hangzhou, Ningbo, and Taizhou, weddings and funerals are frowned upon and "unessential" public venues are closed - with only markets and pharmacies allowed to stay open.
  • Each househld is given a so-called passport, allowing them to leave their homes for necessities once every two days.
  • "This could reduce the transmission to the greatest extent possible," Wenzhou Mayor Yao Gaoyuan said.
  • For more stories go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.

Officials in the Chinese province of Zhejiang have adopted drastic measures in a desperate attempt to prevent the coronavirus from spreading.

After the outbreak of this previously unknown illness on December 31 in Wuhan, in the Hubei province, 28,000-plus cases have been reported and more than 560 people have died, the National Health Commission reported. Google Maps places Zhejiang, home to about 954 coronavirus patients, about 400 miles away from the epicenter, which has been on lockdown since January 23.

Authorities in the cities of Wenzhou, Hangzhou, Ningbo, and Taizhou have forbidden weddings and funerals, and shut down "unessential public venues." They are also curbing the number of times people can leave their homes and quarantined families by locking them into their houses, the South China Morning Post reported.

The population of these four cities combined exceeds 30 million, the Post reported, and officials are issuing a de facto passport to each household. The family's name, address, and an official stamp can be found on this paper, which allows one person from each household to exit their homes every two days for basic supplies.

These rules were shared with the public via local media and the government's social media accounts, the Post said, and residents have already gotten their passports. Standing guard at the entrance to residential communities, officers make a note of the time and date of the person's departure, according to the Post.

An attempt to 'reduce the transmission' of the coronavirus

"This could reduce the transmission to the greatest extent possible," Wenzhou Mayor Yao Gaoyuan said about the restrictions in an interview on Sunday, according to the Post.

A mobile technology that enables people to use their phones to scan a QR code at compound checkpoints is being used to enforce rules in one part of Wenzhou, state-run media said.

Only markets and pharmacies have been left open in Hangzhou, where Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. is located, the Wall Street Journal reported. All other non-essential public places have been closed, subway trains only run every 30 minutes, factories will need special permission to resume work after the Lunar New Year holidays and some families have been confined to their homes after they returned from trips to places where the coronavirus is rampant, the Post noted. People even reported that officials blocked them from entering their rented houses after they spent Lunar New Year out of town.

'This is not humane'

The reaction to these controls has been mixed: Some have said that such aggressive measures are needed to contain the virus, while others have likened the quarantine to being on "house arrest," the Post said.

Allen Li told the Post that her family was forced to stay home for 14 days after they arrived from Wenzhou. Community officials posted a "quarantined at home, no visitors allowed" sign on their door and even used a metal chain to barricade the door and prevent the family from going anywhere.

"We argued with them, but they said it's a decision from above," the 26-year-old told the Post. "We understand we should not go out. But this is not humane. What if there's a fire at our home at midnight, and we can't get anyone to unlock it?"

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