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China sends people to ‘quarantine camps’ ahead of Olympics to quell COVID-19 outbreaks

China continued to hold the Olympics despite the global surge in omicron COVID-19 cases, leading to measures such as “quarantine camps” and mass lockdowns to avoid disruption during the games.

Some have criticized China’s “Zero COVID” policy as harsh and extreme, with entire cities stranded after detecting a few cases of COVID-19. To ensure the smooth running of the 2022 Winter Olympics, China has gone so far as to use massive “camps” where people self-quarantine for two weeks.

A video on Twitter shows rows of box structures, which are fitted with a bed and toilet, and even the elderly and pregnant women are not exempt, according to Indian media outlet First Post. The camp is believed to exist in Xi’an, which has quickly become the epicenter of the current epidemic in China.

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And trying to avoid a stay is not a choice: Another video shows workers in white protective suits forcing a man out of his apartment and getting him ready for camp. He asks that they let him finish his meal or retrieve his phone, but the workers drag him out into the street and stop to ask him only to put on his mask.

People wearing face masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus walk past a statue of Bing Winter Olympic mascot Dwen Dwen near Olympic Green in Beijing on Wednesday, January 12, 2022. Just weeks before hosting the Games Olympic Winter Games in Beijing, China is battling several coronavirus epidemics in half a dozen cities, the closest to the capital being carried by the highly transmissible variant of the omicron.
(AP Photo / Mark Schiefelbein)

Residents of Xi’an faced a “midnight quarantine” in which authorities informed residents just at the start of the New Year that they had to leave their homes to go to the quarantine facilities, reported the BBC. One person said they saw 30 buses outside the compound, with another claiming thousands of people had been displaced.

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“There is nothing here, just basic necessities … Nobody came to see us, what kind of quarantine is this?” one person wrote on the Chinese social media platform Weibo. “They made a big transfer of us, over a thousand people, overnight and a lot of us are old people and children.”

“They didn’t make any proper arrangements so they just placed us carelessly [here]the user added.

Additional videos show dire conditions, including a bare-framed bed and a grimy, prison-like bathroom – but the convenience of a small metal table by the bed.

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The “residents” of the camp are fed with canned meals which are placed on a tray outside a barred window as camp workers pass by on a bed of bicycles and trucks.

A stay at the camp is compulsory to ensure the elimination of all traces of the virus in an area. A video claims that China set up similar camps across the country in April 2020 but did not need to use them initially.

People wearing face masks to protect themselves against the coronavirus watch a display of Paralympic Winter Mascot Shuey Rhon Rhon, left, and Winter Olympic Mascot Bing Dwen Dwen near Olympic Green in Beijing, the Wednesday, January 12, 2022. A few weeks before hosting the Beijing Winter Olympics, China is battling several coronavirus epidemics in half a dozen cities, the closest to the capital being driven by the highly transmissible variant of the omicron.

People wearing face masks to protect themselves against the coronavirus watch a display of Paralympic Winter Mascot Shuey Rhon Rhon, left, and Winter Olympic Mascot Bing Dwen Dwen near Olympic Green in Beijing, the Wednesday, January 12, 2022. A few weeks before hosting the Beijing Winter Olympics, China is battling several coronavirus epidemics in half a dozen cities, the closest to the capital being driven by the highly transmissible variant of the omicron.
(AP Photo / Mark Schiefelbein)

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The widespread blockages, which have increased due to the omicron variant, have raised concern among residents who questioned the need for such extreme measures. Xi’an residents initially had enough freedom to purchase food, but authorities have further tightened restrictions in the past two weeks.


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