(Natural News) In response to a growing Wuhan coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, authorities in Urumqi, the capital of China’s far-western Xinjiang region, are apparently now forcing citizens to take untested medications in a supposed effort to stop the spread of the disease.
Urumqi has been placed under lockdown for over a month now, following reports of a cluster outbreak in mid-July. During this time, local communities have been placed under “seal-off management” that prevents people from entering or leaving.
In addition, citizens have also been forbidden from leaving the city itself, except under special circumstances.
Despite these, the true scale of the outbreak in the city, as well as the rest of the region, remains unknown. Officials have so far refused to provide further details about the outbreak.
Urumqi residents made to take unknown medicine
On top of their strict lockdown, authorities in Urumqi have added a new regulation. Residents are reporting that they are now being made to regularly take drugs that can supposedly prevent infection from the coronavirus.
“Volunteers show up, they take our temperature, watch us take the drugs and photograph us … the children take a half dosage of the drug,” stated a man going by Wang to the Chinese language Epoch Times. “Whether the drug works [to prevent the virus], we don’t have a clue.”
Wang added that the authorities did not explain when the practice would stop.
Other residents shared similar stories. One Urumqi resident said that he was also required to take some form of herbal medicine. However, the packaging did not show the name of the drug he was being given.
“Doctors say the drug is good to prevent flu and the drug is made of traditional Chinese medicine,” the resident said. “It is said to be good for one’s immunity. And community officials pass out the drugs.” He also added that people in other areas of Xinjiang were also taking such drugs.
According to the resident, officials claimed that taking the drug was not mandatory; however, he said that they still collected the names of people who took the drug and those that refused to.
Another resident, however, claimed to know someone who was forced to take the drug.
Interviewees did not disclose their names for fear of reprisal from Chinese authorities for speaking to media.
Forced drugs just the latest draconian measure in Xinjiang
The forced medicines are just the latest in an ever-growing list of draconian measures that Chinese authorities have been levying on Xinjiang. Authorities had initially declared a “wartime state” in the region, before going door-to-door, sealing off apartments and warning residents to stay inside.
With the restrictions having lasted for more than a month now, despite signs that the outbreak is now under control, many residents are now lashing out and accusing authorities of acting too harshly.
“There are no cases here,” said Daisy Luo, a fruit seller who lives in northern Xinjiang, in an interview with the New York Times. “The controls are too strict.”
Luo had taken to social media to speak out against the restrictions says that she felt abandoned by authorities.
“It’s useless to have opinions,” she said. “People dare not speak.”
The extended lockdown has also raised concerns about human rights abuses in Xinjiang. The Chinese government has spent years perfecting a system of mass surveillance and control in the region to maintain control over the region’s largely Muslim ethnic minority groups. These make up about half of Xinjiang’s population of 25 million.
In recent days, Xinjian residents have been circulated videos on social media showing residents being handcuffed to metal posts, supposedly for violating quarantine rules. Another widely circulated video showed Urumqi residents yelling from their homes in despair.
“Is this a prison or cage?” wrote one user wrote on popular Chinese social media service Weibo. “Is this prevention or suppression?”
Despite all this, Chinese officials have yet to provide any detailed information about the restrictions or provide any scope or rationale for them.
Local officials have also tried to portray themselves as responsive and transparent. On August 24, Monday, state-run news made an unusual gesture, publishing the cellphone numbers of government and party officials in Urumqi, encouraging needy residents to get in touch. It was stated that these officials stood ready to “effectively solve the difficult demands of the people of all ethnic groups.”
One of those officials, a district leader in Urumqi named Liu Haijiang, said in an interview that there were no cases in his district and that residents were pleased with the government’s response. (Related: Chinese citizens decry draconian lockdown measures in China’s newest coronavirus hotspots.)
“We are a pure land,” Liu said. “Ordinary people are all very happy.”
Liu, however, could not say when the lockdowns would be lifted.
In Urumqi, authorities said on Monday that they would begin to ease the restrictions in some districts, according to local news reports. The authorities did not say, however, when the full lockdown would be lifted.
Follow Tyranny.news for more on how China uses to coronavirus as an excuse to oppress dissidents in the name of public health.