Did Wuhan lockdown measures violate citizens' rights? | Updated: 2020-07-02 09:35
Residents buy food and supplies at a supermarket in Wuhan, Central China's Hubei province, on March 24. [Photo/Xinhua]

Rumor: The Wuhan lockdown measures violated citizens' right to personal liberty.


- Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, was the first to report novel coronavirus cases. At the most critical moment against the virus, Wuhan enforced temporary travel restrictions in accordance with the law, which mainly include suspension of public transportation, such as city buses, subway services, ferries and coaches, and temporary closing of transport links, including airports, train stations and expressways. These important measures strictly contained the infections at the source, cut off the chain of transmission, and effectively forestalled massive spread of the disease. These measures helped reduce case exportation to other parts of China and the rest of the world, playing a positive role in the containment of COVID-19.

- For a mega-city like Wuhan with more than 11 million people, restrictions on inbound and outbound travel pose an enormous challenge. The Communist Party of China (CPC) and the Chinese government took a string of measures to minimize the impact. Essential travel and much-needed key supplies were ensured, with priority given to people's daily necessities. President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang traveled to Wuhan during the city's battle against COVID-19. They visited local communities for first-hand information on the life of the residents, stressing that people's essential needs must be ensured.

- Thanks to the timely, most comprehensive, rigorous, and thorough containment measures taken by the Chinese government, the chain of transmission was effectively cut off. What China did was widely recognized by the science community. In an interview on 25 January, Dr. Gauden Galea, the WHO Representative in China, said that Wuhan's lockdown measures would effectively curb the spread of the virus, and the temporary sacrifice would be a strong contribution to global public health security.

- Recognizing the right to life as the most fundamental human right, the Chinese government is committed to putting people and life first. To protect people's life and health, China put its socio-economic activities on hold, decisively adopted measures such as quarantine and followed WHO's professional recommendations. Guided by science, China stopped the virus in its tracks and committed itself to saving lives at all costs. From a 108-year-old man to a 30-hour-old newborn baby, every patient was treated with no effort spared. To date, more than 3,000 senior patients aged 80 or above, including seven centenarians, have recovered after treatment in Hubei. In fact, some critically-ill elderly patients were brought back to life from the verge of death. There was a case of a 70-year-old patient who might not have survived COVID-19 had it not been for the many weeks of intensive treatment and care from about a dozen health workers. The expenses of the treatment, nearly 1.5 million yuan, were fully covered by the government.

- In contrast, the US government has ignored science, played down the threat of the virus, and even resorted to blame shifting. This resulted in massive domestic outbreaks that cost the lives and health of many Americans, plunged the economy into recession and led to social turbulence. It was a typical example of putting political self-interests first. By 30 June, the US reported over 2.68 million confirmed cases and nearly 130,000 deaths, or 387 deaths per million. They are 30, 27, and 129 times the numbers in China. According to USCDC Director Robert Redfield, the number of coronavirus infections in the US could be 10 times higher than the confirmed case count. In other words, the number of infections in the US may have exceeded 20 million.

- Vulnerable groups in the US are struggling to survive under COVID-19. The NYT website on 11 May reported that at least 28,100 residents and staff at nursing homes and other old-age care facilities across the US had died of the coronavirus, accounting for a third of the death toll in the US. According to USCDC statistics, as of 13 May, 22.4 percent of the country's COVID-19 fatalities were African Americans, much higher than their 12.5 percent share in the US population. Hispanic Americans also suffered higher infection and fatality rates. Data from the city of New York in early April recorded 34 percent of COVID-19 deaths as Latinos.

- In comparison to other countries' COVID-19 response, China's control measures have proven to be most effective at saving lives. As reported by the NYT website on 20 May, a study from the Columbia University suggests the delay in imposing travel restrictions claimed at least 36,000 American lives. Had the US government acted one week earlier, 36,000 lives could have been saved. Had the restrictions been introduced two weeks earlier, 83 percent of the deaths could have been avoided.

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