Coronavirus: China′s Wuhan prepares for the uncertain end of COVID-19 | Asia| An in-depth look at news from across the continent | DW | 31.03.2020
  1. Inhalt
  2. Navigation
  3. Weitere Inhalte
  4. Metanavigation
  5. Suche
  6. Choose from 30 Languages
Advertisement

Asia

Coronavirus: China's Wuhan prepares for the uncertain end of COVID-19

Life is slowly returning to normal in the Chinese city where COVID-19 is thought to have originated. However, people here aren't sure if they can trust Beijing's claims that the danger has passed.

Life is gradually returning to normal in Wuhan following the Chinese government's decision to lift a lockdown that brought the city of 11 million to a standstill for over two months.

In January, Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, was at the center of the COVID-19 epidemic, as the virus began to spread with exponential speed to the rest of China. Authorities responded with drastic measures; cutting the city off from the world by stopping all transportation and requiring people to remain in their homes.

On April 8, the lockdown will be partially lifted, and those who are listed as healthy will be allowed to leave the city. Busses and subways in the city are already running.

As the Chinese government tries to get life back to normal in Wuhan, some people here are wondering if they can trust the authorities who have covered up information in the past. Others are finding it hard to revert back to a normal lifestyle.

Read moreDisinformation and propaganda during the coronavirus pandemic

Ben, who works in real estate and who prefers to use a pseudonym, said the last two months have felt like everything was suspended.

After spending so much time confined at home, he finds it hard to be in a crowd again. "I used to love going to movies or performances with friends on the weekends, but before the outbreak is truly over, I prefer to stay home," Ben told DW.

His business will also likely suffer, as people are not likely to buy real estate after the city re-opens.

"I don't expect people to be in the mood for buying property before this outbreak phases out completely," Ben said. " The anxiety that we have felt over the past two months is still in the air."

Watch video 01:59

China to lift travel restrictions on Hubei province

Mistrust of the government

Most Wuhan residents think that although Beijing's decision to enforce a total lockdown in Wuhan helped to contain the coronavirus, its delayed response still caused tens of thousands of people to become infected.

"I will never forget the cries from many broken families, and how the government ignored the rights of people in the very beginning," said Eric, who lives in Wuhan with his family and prefers to use a pseudonym when speaking with the media.

Eric works as an engineer, and he said his life has changed since the lockdown. "I used to go take a walk or workout in the nearby park with my family, but since the government shut down the city, all we had to do was to stay home and stare at our phones or the television," Eric said.

Read moreDoubts over China's claim of beating coronavirus

Ben said that the authorities didn't prepare for the lockdown, and Wuhan descended into total chaos after the order came into effect.

"Even though the lockdown was a necessary measure to prevent the virus from spreading further, the central government didn't implement a mechanism to cope with people's needs amid the outbreak, forcing many of them to try to seek help on their own," he said.

Following the initial chaos, the Chinese government quickly built several makeshift hospitals to treat infected patients. They also brought in medical professionals from other provinces.

"The government initiated a strict community-based management system to contain the spread of the virus, said Eric. "They mobilized volunteers and local staff to conduct household check-ins through phone calls and deployed them to purchase medication and basic necessities for all families in the community. These local staff played a key role in keeping us alive during the outbreak."

'We don't want any more propaganda'

As Beijing takes credit for the dropping numbers of COVID-19 cases in China, people in Wuhan still question the government's credibility and crisis management skills. Eric said while most Chinese people grow up under the influence of Beijing's propaganda, the coronavirus crisis has inspired some people in China to become more critical of the government's decisions.

Read moreCoronavirus: China and responsible action

Since the beginning of March, Beijing has started to aggressively propagate its "victory" over the coronavirus outbreak within China. But to those living in Wuhan, it is more important to reflect on what causes the outbreak in the first place, instead of "celebrating" the end.

"I don't want to hear anything about the government's 'great victory' over the coronavirus, because I believe now is the time to reflect on the mistakes they've made over the last two and a half months and to try and determine the cause of the outbreak and establish a better disease-prevention mechanism," said Ben in Wuhan.

People walk through a train station in Wuhan (Getty Images/AFP/STR)

Public life has slowly begun to pick up again in Wuhan

How to trust the data?

Over the last few days, data released by China's National Health Commission showed that Hubei province has not reported any new COVID-19 cases. However, Wuhan residents question the authenticity of official data. Eric points out that in the beginning of the outbreak, local hospitals didn't test many people with symptoms, and they died. According to him, most of these cases were not included into the official data.

"Most people in Wuhan don't trust the official data, including those who would normally defend the government," Eric said. "We believe the reason why Hubei province has not reported any new cases is because the government needs to legitimize its decision of restarting businesses. There is still news about new cases emerging in Wuhan, including those who are tested positive after being released from hospitals. That's why we don't trust the official data."

Read moreOpinion: From US to China, lies and coronavirus pandemic

To many people in Wuhan, verification of official data is very important, because it allows them to have a clear understanding about the current state of the coronavirus outbreak.

"The official data is based on the honesty of the Chinese government, and people also need authentic information to assess existing risks," Ben said. "What if coronavirus breaks out again in Wuhan? Possibilities like this keep many of us unsettled, even though the government is trying to push us to go back to work."

Watch video 12:01

Why tracking personal data to fight coronavirus could be problematic

Audios and videos on the topic