Hubei city resumes lockdown measures 7 hours after easing restraints in coronavirus battle

By Wang Qi Source:Global Times Published: 2020/3/11 16:20:54

An employee takes temperature checking at a staff domitory of Chongqing Mexin Group in southwest China's Chongqing Municipality, Feb. 12, 2020.. (Xinhua/Liu Chan)

Authorities in Qianjiang city, Hubei Province retracted their decision made one day earlier to lift transport restrictions amid the battle against the COVID-19 infection and resumed draconian lockdown on Wednesday.

Qianjiang is the first city in the epidemic-stricken Hubei to announce a full resumption of work and daily life as well as lifting of traffic restrictions on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, it said on Wednesday morning that the city will continue to implement strict traffic and personnel controls in order to achieve a resolute victory against the coronavirus. 

The county-level city had earlier made the announcement online, saying that after a conference on epidemic prevention and social development, the local authority decided to fully restore the order of industry and daily life, such as lifting all traffic blocks, resuming public transport and letting people go back to work. 

Besides Qianjiang, three other counties in Hubei have announced the resumption of normal work and life on March 7. However, routes going out of the province are still being strictly controlled by local governments. 

Qianjiang is not the first to have made such an announcement only to quickly retract it. Authorities in Wuhan retracted a similar announcement only three hours after its publication saying it would ease the city's lockdown to allow certain residents to leave and those outside to enter in late February. 

Many analysts welcome Qianjiang's withdrawal and believe it is better to avoid being over-optimistic.

Zhu Lijia, a professor of public management at the Chinese Academy of Governance, told the Global Times on Wednesday that the "farce" shows that the local government is not rigorous and lacks overall thinking.

"The regions of the country are all on the 'same chess board,'" Zhu said. 

He warned against over-optimism and being too relaxed, as imported infections and community infections should never be neglected. 

Qianjing's optimism was not unfounded. As of press time, the city reported a total of 198 coronavirus infections, with 176 cured, nine deaths and 13 patients still under treatment. The situation in Qianjiang is the second most optimistic in Hubei, following Shennongjia Forestry District, which reported 11 cases in total, all of whom have recovered. 

However, there are still at least 15,600 patients in Hubei Province at present. 

The city was once viewed as a model of coronavirus prevention and control work due to its timely and determined efforts. 

According to reports, the city closed all public entertainment venues and imposed traffic restrictions in mid-January, even before top experts visited Wuhan and locked down the city. It also made preparation in designating enough hospitals and hotels for quarantine and treatment from the very early stages.

Due to its relatively upbeat situation, the Qianjiang government has been active in aiding other cities amid the epidemic. According to reports, the city has donated 100,000 masks to Wuhan and five tons of rice and vegetables. On February 3, it also donated 30 tons of crawfish and 10,000 kilograms of vegetables and eggs. 

With a population of 1.1 million, Qianjiang is famous for its crawfish and oil-gas industry. 

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