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Videos: China locking people in cells for COVID; pregnant women, kids, elderly reportedly included

A worker in a hazmat-style smock inspects a row of COVID isolation cells in China. (Screenshot).
October 07, 2022

A video shared on Twitter on Thursday showed a worker in a hazmat suit checking on people locked inside COVID isolation cells in China. Various reports have indicated pregnant women, children and the elderly are among those who have been stuck in isolation.

“Life inside the China covid isolation camps,” a Twitter user said. “There are reports of women with children, even pregnant women, being locked up here. Is this really about covid? or is it just about control?”

The video showed the worker in the white hazmat suit quickly walking down a row of isolation cells. The worker, who appeared to be holding a thermometer, would knock on the doors of each cell and place the device on the outstretched hand of the person inside the cell.

Last year, Bloomberg News reported China’s government had asked its cities to start building COVID isolation centers with cells like the ones shown in the video. Earlier this year, the BBC reported those placed in these isolation cells have even included pregnant women, children and the elderly.

The same Twitter user shared another video, purportedly showing a much larger isolation camp in China’s Xinjiang region, where China is holding Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities in so-called “re-education” camps.

“The Xinjiang isolation camp, filmed on 4-Oct,” the tweet reads. “It is so wide that you can’t see the end of it … Looks like a concentration camp to experts, but China claims it is just covid isolation camp.”

These COVID lockdown measures are part of the “Zero-COVID” strategy embraced by China. This strategy entails extensive testing and contact-tracing measures, with strict lockdowns for those who test positive.

In April, videos taken in Shanghai showed people screaming en masse after being isolated in their homes for a week. Other videos taken in Shanghai and other areas in China showed police in white hazmat suits beating people who broke their lockdowns.

While lockdowns and COVID restrictions have virtually ended in the U.S., these videos offer a glimpse into the authoritarian model for social control favored by China.