by John Hayward
The huge Chinese city of Chengdu, capital city of Sichuan province, extended its coronavirus lockdown and mass testing program on Sunday, trapping most of its 21 million citizens in their homes. At least 70 cities are now under full or partial lockdown, including the city where the Covid-19 pandemic began, Wuhan.
Chengdu went under lockdown on Thursday, to the surprise and terror of its inhabitants, who were given no time to prepare. On Sunday, city officials announced the lockdown would be extended for most of the city, with the exception of two small districts.
“The city’s Covid situation is severe and complex. The number of new infections remains relatively high and community transmission risk still exists,” a local health official warned.
No timetable for ending the lockdown was given, but officials said mass testing would continue through Wednesday to reach “Covid Zero in the community as soon as possible.” Supposedly only 185 coronavirus cases have been detected in the entire province.
Draconian speech controls have been imposed, as with Shanghai. Chinese social media is buzzing with the story of a Chengdu man who was thrown in jail for warning a lockdown was coming, two days before it was indeed imposed.
Estimates of how many Chinese citizens are currently suffering under coronavirus lockdowns vary. CNN tabulated one of the highest totals in foreign media on Monday, with at least 74 cities and a combined population of 313 million currently living under severe restrictions. 15 of those cities, like Chengdu, are provincial capitals. One of the others is Wuhan, the city where the pandemic began.