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Saturday, January 28, 2023

China: Following a Fatal Fire, Protests against COVID Curbs Erupt

China has imposed one of the nation's longest lockdowns in the vast Xinjiang province

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Sadaf Hasan
Sadaf Hasan
Aspiring reporter covering trending topics

CHINA: A fresh protest has erupted in China’s far western Xinjiang region after a fire blazed in an apartment, killing 10 people, which has sparked anger over the prolonged COVID curbs as Beijing faces disapproval on its hardline approach over the curbs amid the nation hitting its new set of infection records.

Some people have claimed that the strict COVID curbs hampered the rescue efforts. They also allege that people from fire-hit compounds were prevented from leaving their homes, and as a result, the residents could not escape on time, which led to the deaths of 10 people and 9 injuries.

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Videos are being shared on social media platforms that show crowds chanting “End the lockdown!” while pumping their fists in the air as they walk on the street of Xinjiang’s capital, Urumqi, on Friday night.

Videos also showed individuals singing the national anthem of China, which contains the lyrics, “Rise up, those who refuse to be slaves!”. Others shouted that they wanted to be let out of lockdowns.

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China has imposed one of the nation’s longest lockdowns in the vast Xinjiang province, which is home to 10 million Uighurs, with many of Urumqi’s four million inhabitants prohibited from leaving their homes for up to 100 days.

While the rest of the world is coping with COVID-19, China has remained steadfast in its “zero-COVID” approach, which depends on immediate lockdowns, widespread testing, protracted quarantines, and border controls to eradicate the virus wherever it manifests.

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In another video, a group of people can be seen walking through a neighbourhood in the east of the city while yelling the same slogan before coming face to face with a row of security guards and hazmat-clad officials.

Weibo, a Chinese social media site, reported that electric car jams prevented rescue trucks from reaching the burning residential structure. Because of the lockdowns, homeowners and rescue personnel were unable to relocate the uncharged cars.

“Rescue attempts were delayed because of a lack of parking spaces and a big number of private vehicles parked on both sides,” said fire and rescue chief Li Wenshengs.

“Some residents’ ability to escape themselves was too frail… and they were unable to flee in time,” Wensheng said.

However, social media posts revealed that many citizens were confined to their houses as a result of COVID-19 limitations.

Over 32,000 infections were recorded in China on Friday, an increase from the over 31,000 that was reported on Thursday. The vast majority of cases are asymptomatic.

On Thursday and Friday, the cases exceeded the previous high, which was just under 30,000 instances in April. Shanghai, a city of 25 million people and an economic hub, was placed under a two-month lockdown as a result of that spike.

The nationwide restrictions have been gradually strengthened along with the most recent wave.

Also Read: Beijing Closes Parks and Museums as COVID-19 Cases Rise in China


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