People queue for COVID-19 PCR testing in Lhasa, Tibet on Aug. 9, 2022. (CNS/AFP via Getty Images)
The Epoch Times
A businessman in Tibet has blasted China’s communist party authorities for messing up in the region with its “zero-COVID” policies, describing China’s quarantine facilities as “concentration camps.”
China’s ruling communist party (CCP) have imposed stringent COVID-19 lockdown measures in Tibet since early August.
Xiao Wang (pseudonym) who has been doing business in Lhasa, the capital city of Tibet, is a resident from Leshan city in China’s southwestern Sichuan Province.
He was forced into isolation in a makeshift quarantine facility in Tibet for 25 days after his PCR test returned a negative and then a positive result.
“I can’t help crying after experiencing the lockdown. I have so much to say, but I find myself lost for words when I talk about it, and I am scared, too,” Wang told the Chinese language edition of The Epoch Times on Nov. 9.
Zero-COVID Measures ‘A Mess-Up’
Wang first went to Tibet with his wife in March to do business in the high-altitude region. They didn’t expect to become trapped in the government’s COVID-19 lockdowns in the region. Wang criticized the COVID management measures for being “a mess.”
“The whole city of Lhasa is a mess-up,” Wang told The Epoch Times in the interview.
Wang had been required to take regular PCR tests since the municipal government rolled out its mass testing policy for residents.
But one day, from a single test, he received two conflicting results.
“Early in the morning, it was negative. But later, it turned out to be positive, but the two results came from the same testing sample,” Wang said.
The authorities then decided to isolate him in a quarantine facility, Wang said.
“Before I left, I had to take an antigen test. And the test result was negative, but they still pulled me to the quarantine facility,” Wang said.
“The government said I was infected [with the virus that causes COVID], but I would say that’s just an arbitrary decision of the government. They decide whom to be quarantined at will.”
During his 25 days of isolation from Sept. 16 to Oct. 10, Wang didn’t have any COVID-19 symptoms, and his chest CT scan result was normal, according to Wang.
The trip to the quarantine facility was hard.
“It’s about 10 miles away, but the transfer bus took about eight hours on the road,” Wang said.
The bus was packed with over 50 people, old and young, crowded together in the bus. “For more than eight hours, we were packed on that bus. I felt hopeless and heartbroken,” Wang said.
On Oct. 10, Wang was released from the isolation facility and transferred back home. That trip was equally trying, he said.
“I had to change five buses on the way back home. One bus took me to a place, and I got off the bus, waited to register my information, then took another bus, got off at another place, and waited and registered again, five times before I finally arrived home,” Wang said.
Quarantine Facilities are ‘Concentration Camps’
Wang said he was first taken to a makeshift isolation facility that was set up on campus of the University of Tibetan Medicine.
“The academic buildings and dormitory buildings were full of isolated people, and hundreds of people slept together,” Wang said. “Can those places be called makeshift isolation facilities? They are concentration camps!” he said, citing the poor and unsuitable conditions.
He was later transferred to another makeshift isolation facility that he said was just as bad as the first one.
“Hundreds of thousands of people are isolated in these ‘isolation sites,’ which is meaningless,” Wang said.
He said they received little medical treatment while there.
“People with a body temperature of over 104℉ didn’t receive any medical treatment. A young girl, who was a student, died of high fever in one quarantine facility,” Wang said.
He told The Epoch Times that in the makeshift quarantine facilities, they were given a bed, but that was it. They had to take PCR tests every morning. If anyone had symptoms, they were told to drink tap water.
“The medicine we get is Lianhuaqingwen [capsules or granules], but we don’t want to take it,” Wang said.
Lianhuaqingwen is a traditional Chinese medicine that the CCP claims is effective at treating COVID-19. The product is unapproved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
Wang is now back in his hometown in Sichuan Province. He is currently quarantined in a makeshift isolation center in Leshan, after which he is to be home quarantined for another four days. He said he was only able to leave Lhasa only after protests broke out in the city against the strict zero-COVID lockdowns.
VOA reported the protest on Oct. 28, describing it as “rare” due to Lhasa being a “heavily policed city.”
The CCP announced the outbreak in Tibet on Aug. 8 and locked down parts of Lhasa and two other Tibetan cities on Aug. 9, ordering mass-testing for all residents in the three cities. Local authorities announced to gradual ease to the restrictions on Nov. 11, which it says doesn’t mean a “lifting of restrictions,” according to a notice on the official website of the Lhasa municipal government.
The notice also said that people who don’t obey the requirement for wearing face masks or those who won’t take PCR tests are violating the law.
According to the health committee of Tibet, Lhasa has officially reported two asymptomatic cases as of Nov. 12. The top regional health body said there are two high-risk areas in the region, but it strangely didn’t name the cities affected.
Residents in high-risk areas have been banned from leaving their homes.
Xia Song, Gu Xiaohua, and Hong Ning contributed to this report.