China has pressed ahead with holding the Olympics despite the global spike in COVID-19 omicron cases, leading to such measures as “quarantine camps” and mass lockdowns to prevent any disruption during the games.
Some have criticized China’s “Zero COVID” policy as harsh and extreme, with entire cities in lockdown after detecting just a few cases of COVID-19. To ensure the 2022 Winter Olympics run smoothly, China has gone so far as to utilize massive “camps” where people quarantine for two weeks.
Video on Twitter shows rows of the box structures, which come complete with a bed and a toilet, and even elderly people and pregnant women are not exempt, according to Indian news outlet First Post. The camp reportedly exists within Xi’an, which has fast become the epicenter of the current outbreak in China.
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And trying to avoid a stay is not a choice: Another video shows workers in white hazard suits forcing a man out of his apartment and preparing him for the camp. He asks that they let him finish his meal or get his phone, but the workers drag him into the street and stop to ask him only to put his facemask on.
People wearing face masks to protect against coronavirus walk past a statue of the Winter Olympic mascot Bing Dwen Dwen near the Olympic Green in Beijing, Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022. Just weeks before hosting the Beijing Winter Olympics, China is battling multiple coronavirus outbreaks in half a dozen cities, with the one closest to the capital driven by the highly transmissible omicron variant. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
Residents of Xi’an faced a “midnight quarantine” during which officials informed residents just as the New Year began that they had to leave their homes to go to the quarantine facilities, the BBC reported. One person reported seeing 30 buses outside the compound, with another person claiming that thousands of people were moved.
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“There is nothing here, just basic necessities… Nobody has come to check up on us, what kind of quarantine is this?” one person wrote on Chinese social media platform Weibo. “They did a big transfer of us, more than a thousand people, in the night and many of us are elderly people and children.”
“They didn’t make any proper arrangements and so they just carelessly placed us [here],” the user added.
Additional videos show dire conditions, including a bare-framed bed and a dingy, prison-like bathroom – but the convenience of a small metal table by the bed.
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“Residents” in the camp are fed with boxed meals that are placed on a tray outside a barred window as the camp workers drive by on a bike and truck bed.
A stay in the camp is mandatory to ensure the elimination of any trace of the virus in an area. One video claims that China set up similar camps around the country in April 2020 but didn’t need to use them initially.
People wearing face masks to help protect against the coronavirus look at a display of the Winter Paralympic mascot Shuey Rhon Rhon, left, and Winter Olympic mascot Bing Dwen Dwen near the Olympic Green in Beijing, Wednesday, Jan. 12, 2022. Just weeks before hosting the Beijing Winter Olympics, China is battling multiple coronavirus outbreaks in half a dozen cities, with the one closest to the capital driven by the highly transmissible omicron variant. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
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The widespread lockdowns, which have increased due to the omicron variant, sparked concern among residents who questioned the need for such extreme measures. Residents in Xi’an initially had enough freedom to buy food, but officials tightened up restrictions further in the past two weeks.