CHINA has unveiled plans to plunge 13million people into lockdown in the event of a FLU outbreak.
Officials in the city of Xi’an have drawn up emergency plans to shut down schools, businesses and public buildings as the country battles a sudden surge in flu cases.
Medics in hazmat suits in Xi’an, Shaanxi province[/caption]
Authorities in Xi’an said they might return to lockdowns to combat flu outbreaks[/caption]
The sharp spike in cases across China has led to a shortage of antiviral medication at pharmacies in many parts of the country.
But authorities in Xi’an, in Shaanxi province, have now said they might return to lockdowns “when necessary” to combat future flu outbreaks.
And the plans have sparked a furious backlash – with many blasting the proposals as “excessive”.
Some said local officials were “addicted to sealing and controlling”.
On Weibo – China’s version of Twitter – one user said: “Is it not enough to torture people (before), that we are thinking of doing it again and again?”
Another wrote: “If we have to lock down because of influenza, then won’t we have to lock down every time flu season comes?
“We will not go backwards.”
A third urged officials to “vaccinate the public rather than creating a sense of panic”.
Another pointed out that flu outbreaks in the days before the Covid pandemic never prompted any form of lockdown.
Xi’an faced some of China’s strictest lockdowns during the pandemic when locals were banned from leaving their homes – even to buy food and basic supplies.
Huang Yanzhong, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, said local residents will be “traumatised” by the experience.
He told the BBC: “To local residents who were traumatised by the lockdown measures not long ago, the return to the same draconian method in coping with flu outbreaks is by no means justified.”
Tang Renwu from Beijing Normal University’s School of Government added: “Local governments should pay attention to their wording when issuing similar documents so as not to trigger social panic.”
Back in December, China rolled back some of its most strict rules – including slashing the length of lockdowns and ordering pupils to return to classrooms.
Anger over China’s zero-Covid policy – involving mass lockdowns, constant testing and lengthy quarantines – stoked huge unrest on a scale not seen since the 1989 pro-democracy protests.
Hundreds took to the streets in eight cities – including Beijing and Shanghai – after the deaths of 10 people in an apartment fire was blamed on lockdown rules.
Protesters called for more political freedoms, with some even calling for Xi to step down.
For nearly three years, China desperately tried to maintain its hardline policy while keeping the world’s second largest economy humming.
But the nationwide outpouring of public frustration finally swayed the opinion of top Communist Party officials.