Authorities in the Chinese province of Zhejiang have adopted draconian measures in an attempt to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, including padlocking families inside their homes, the South China Morning Post reported on Thursday.
Other measures include the closing of all public venues deemed “unessential” and the banning of weddings and funerals.
In four cities in the province, with a combined population of 30 million, citizens have been issued “passports” to leave their homes. Government officials stationed at residential buildings stamp the “passport” each time a resident leaves, and one person per family is allowed to leave their home every two days.
Allen Li, 26, and his parents were padlocked in their home in the city of Hangzhou after Li arrived from a different city. Hangzhou has 151 confirmed cases of coronavirus.
“We argued with them, but they said it’s a decision from above,” Li told the Post. “We understand we should not go out. But this is not humane. What if there’s a fire at our home at midnight, and we can’t get anyone to unlock it?”
Zhejiang has 954 confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in total, the most outside the epidemic’s epicenter in Hubei province. Hubei has 19,665 confirmed cases, and is home to the city of Wuhan where the virus originated.
As of Thursday morning, there were 28,396 confirmed cases in the world, the vast majority of them in mainland China. The virus has resulted in 566 deaths, while 1,341 people have recovered.
Chinese citizens have criticized their government on social media after it was found that Wuhan authorities punished a doctor for warning friends about the outbreak of the as-yet unknown virus. That doctor, Li Wenliang, is now himself infected and unable to speak due to severe coughing and breathing problems caused by the illness.
The Trump administration has taken a series of measures to prevent the spread of the virus in the U.S., including mandatory quarantines for suspected carriers and a ban on all foreign citizens recently in China from entering the country.