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Xinjiang: China’s most controlled region is facing the largest coronavirus outbreak in months



Although only a few daily cases (most of which are imported) have been reported in other parts of the country, Xinjiang recorded dozens of new infections this week. According to China’s National Health Commission, the region reported 14 new cases on Thursday, bringing the total number of active cases to 197.

This is the largest cluster of coronaviruses in the country, as more than 180 infections were reported in the capital Beijing in June.
All recent cases were detected in Shuf County in Kashgar, which borders Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan in southwestern Xinjiang. According to official media reports, the new outbreak started on October 24, when a “17-year-old woman” tested positive during the county’s routine nucleic acid test. This was a project launched by Xinjiang in August to improve Measures for early warning and timeliness of Covid-1
9.

The state news agency Xinhua reported: “The local government and Xinjiang immediately launched an emergency response. Medical teams and work teams inside and outside Xinjiang were sent to counties and counties to seek support.”

Xinhua News Agency said that by Tuesday, 4.74 million people in the Greater Kashgar area had been tested for the virus. Whenever there is an outbreak, similar large-scale tests and emergency responses have been launched in other parts of China. So far, this method seems to have effectively prevented the re-spread of the virus nationwide.

However, given the widespread presence of strict surveillance and security measures in the region, and the strong government response earlier this year, the Xinjiang outbreak has attracted people’s attention.

During the initial outbreak in China, although only about 70 deaths and 3 deaths were reported, Xinjiang was still subject to strict lock-in measures, the same as those implemented in Wuhan, the original central city of the virus. When the regional capital, Urumqi, broke out in July, the authorities imposed strict lockdowns, cancelled flights, inspected markets and restaurants, and tested residents.

Despite this, although most other parts of the country are avoiding new outbreaks, Kashgar has seen the infection spread rapidly, mainly through a garment factory in Zhanmin Township, Shufu County. The parents work there.

Xinjiang officials said Thursday that at the center of the most recent outbreak, the factory employed 252 workers and produced casual and sportswear. They added that this is part of a plan to “help villagers find jobs and increase income”.
In the past, factories and enterprises in Xinjiang faced allegations of forced labor and poor conditions. Last month, the United States issued new import restrictions on Chinese companies accused of using slave labor, including products from possible large-scale prison camps in the region.

Adrian Zenz, a leading expert on the Chinese government’s Xinjiang policy, said that the factory in the latest outbreak symbolizes a factory for “compulsory labor training” and the project is aimed at “so-called surplus rural labor” The so-called poverty alleviation program. “

In a report last year, Zengzi cited official documents to point out how rural workers who previously relied on a mix of agriculture and odd jobs were forced to receive training for low-skilled jobs in factories across Xinjiang. He said that this system includes ” A lot of involuntary aspects.”

Zengtz said that although the “poverty alleviation” program is technically separate from the detention camps and the forced labor system, many of these factories also use the workers in these camps, “in fact, the distinction is more compulsive. It is almost impossible to distinguish labor from potential labor. Less compulsory.”

Zeng Zi told CNN: “Xinjiang has so many facilities that make people gather in crowded spaces and facilities, from prisons to detention centers to education camps to factories.” “Especially factories, where diseases are difficult to find. Control because the crowds are increasing.”

Unlike in July or the beginning of the pandemic, after the Chinese authorities vigorously promoted Xinjiang as a tourist destination during the Golden Week national holiday in early October, they did not seem to restrict Xinjiang or discourage travel in Xinjiang.
According to Xinhua News Agency, “For residents in other parts of Xinjiang, life and work usually proceed as usual, and necessary epidemic control measures have been taken.”

The news agency quoted users on Weibo, a Twitter-like service, that “travelers to Xinjiang have always guaranteed a limited risk of infection outside of Kashgar.” One user said: “Xinjiang is so big that you can only take the necessary precautions to relax and have fun.”

In an interview with CNN, a recent visitor to Kashgar was surprised by the recent epidemic because she was under strict control and surveillance while on vacation there.

Greta Xu said: “I was shocked and confused. The overall travel experience… I felt very strict in terms of virus control and security.” In China-and detailed travel history when entering hotels and even gas stations.

She said: “The (security forces) on the street will remind us to wear masks. In theory, this should be safe.”


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