Without prior notice, Portuguese Alexandre Castro was prevented from leaving his home, indefinitely, in the city of Canton, southeast China, experiencing the forcefulness of the Chinese authorities in the suppression of the new coronavirus.
“On Saturday, we were going to leave the building and we couldn’t do it anymore”, described Castro to the Lusa agency. “The streets around the neighborhood were fenced off, with police cordon, and a barrier was placed at the door of the building,” said.
Alexandre Castro, a football coach based two years ago in Cantão, a city of 15 million people, was caught at the epicenter of the outbreak that has resulted in dozens of local infections since 21 May. The sudden increase in cases in the provincial capital of Guangdong has shaken Chinese authorities, who thought they had the disease under control.
The neighborhood where the Portuguese lives – Zhonghai Huawan Yihao – was one of the first to be isolated, after several cases were detected among residents. The condominium consists of more than twenty towers, serving as a residence for thousands of families.
Last week, after the first cases were detected in the neighborhood, all residents were tested. On Saturday, authorities proceeded to isolate the block, preventing exits. At least five metro stations near the area were closed, according to the Portuguese.
At the provincial level, authorities on Monday imposed restrictions on the departure of people from Guangdong, requiring a test carried out within the previous 72 hours.
Guangdong, which borders Macau and Hong Kong, is the Chinese province that exports the most and integrates three of China’s six Special Economic Zones – Shenzhen, Shantou and Zhuhai.
The supply of supplies for the Alexander district, located in the south of Canton, remains an open question.
“We were informed that we were going to receive supplies, but so far nothing“summed.
Since March 2019, when the Chinese Communist Party declared victory over the disease, authorities have acted quickly to stop new outbreaks from spreading, quarantining entire towns or neighborhoods, while massively testing the local population once the first cases are diagnosed. .
Alexander’s account illustrates the effectiveness of the Chinese system in dealing with the disease, but also its darker side: the virus has been kept under control, but only because of the regime’s power to dictate colossal changes, while having a vast apparatus of surveillance.
Virtually everyone living in China is now required to use a mobile app that records in detail where the user has been. The application is required at the entrance of office buildings, shopping centers or supermarkets.
Epidemic Prevention Committees were officially created in all neighborhoods, illustrating the national mobilization after Chinese President Xi Jinping called fighting the virus a “people’s war”.
Since the start of the covid-19 pandemic, the country has registered 91,122 cases of the disease and 4,636 deaths, according to data from the National Health Commission of China.
The covid-19 pandemic caused at least 3,543,125 deaths in the world, resulting from more than 170.2 million cases of infection, according to a balance made by the French agency AFP.
In Portugal, 17,025 people died out of 849,093 confirmed cases of infection, according to the latest bulletin from the Directorate-General for Health.
The disease is transmitted by a new coronavirus detected in late 2019 in Wuhan, a city in central China.