After more than two months since the city was first sealed off from the outside world in an unprecedented bid to contain COVID-19, China lifted the lockdown in the province of Hubei,after reporting a slump in the number of new coronavirus cases.
However, locals believe the government is not being entirely honest about its containment of the virus outbreak that has infected more than 81,400 people and claimed over 3,300 lives in the mainland.
Violence erupts between Hubei residents and Jiangxi police
China has already started easing its lockdown restrictions in the Hubei province, which is home to 6 million residents, and has even resumed local transport services across the province. However, residents who work in other parts of China are still not being allowed to leave Hubei as local authorities defy central government orders and refuse to lift the travel restrictions.
On Friday, this led to clashes between migrant workers in Hubei and authorities of the nearby Jiangxi province when the workers tried to cross over a bridge that connects Hubei's Huangmei to Jiangxi's Jiujiang. Video footage posted online shows hundreds of people attacking police officers from Jiujiang and overturning their vehicles. You can watch the footage below:
Is the government lying about coronavirus statistics?
This has led to growing mistrust and scepticism among locals over the government's claims that the COVID-19 outbreak in the country has been contained.
As of March 25, government authorities ordered an end to the isolation imposed on the cities of Hubei since January 23, with the exception of Wuhan, which will remain in lockdown until April 8. However, Hubei residents are complaining that travel restrictions are still being enforced even when they shouldn't.
The violent protests on Friday, the sudden requirement of additional documentation required for people to move around the country, and the health officials' admittance that thousands of asymptomatic patients were systematically excluded from the official counts to maintain the "zero local infections" record have added more fuel to the fire.
Wuhan residents report thousands of urns being shipped in
According to a report published by Chinese newspaper Caixin, residents of Wuhan believe the region's death toll is likely to be at least 20 times higher than numbers reported by the government. Locals believe that as many as 42,000 to 47,000 people have died in Wuhan, substantially higher than the government-reported death toll of 2,535.
Several Wuhan residents also took to social media to share images of thousands of urns being shipped into the city. As many as 5,000 cremation urns were reportedly delivered to a single funeral home in the city within a span of just two days – suggesting that the total number of fatalities is nowhere close to the official figures released by the government.