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China’s Zero-Covid policy endangering Tibetan lives: Exile govt

Hindustan Times logo Hindustan Times 26-09-2022 HT Correspondent
China publicly reported the first Covid outbreak in Tibet on August 8 this year, with 22 cases of Covid-positive in Lhasa and Ngari. (AP) © Provided by Hindustan Times China publicly reported the first Covid outbreak in Tibet on August 8 this year, with 22 cases of Covid-positive in Lhasa and Ngari. (AP)

Dharmashala: Severe crackdown by China to enforce its Zero-Covid Policy only exposes Beijing’s failed Covid-policy implementation resulting in the endangerment of Tibetan lives, the Kashag (cabinet) of the Tibetan government-in-exile in a statement issued here.

In an attempt to present itself as a role model in curbing the outbreak, the exile government said, China was downright disregarding the safety and security of Tibetans in need of medical assistance and Covid care.

“Tibetans complained about crowded quarantine facilities, food scarcity, lack of medical supplies and unhygienic living conditions. Some Tibetans likened the condition to being worse than a prisoner, and another Tibetan was beaten up for protesting against the dire living situation under the Covid lockdown,” alleged the exile government officially called Central Tibetan Administration (CTA)

It said China publicly reported the first Covid outbreak in Tibet on August 8 this year, with 22 cases of Covid-positive in Lhasa and Ngari.

This has been the first official admission of Covid in Tibet after the repeated public announcements of the Zero-Covid policy in the “Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR)” since early 2020, alleged the exile government.

Within weeks, at least 3,627 people had reportedly tested positive, indicating a rapid increase. Strict government-imposed lockdowns were soon enacted in Lhasa, Shigatse, and Ngari after news of positive cases were reported from nearby areas of Nagchu, Chamdo, Lhoka, and Nyingtri.

Currently, an estimated 53,076 people reside in isolation centres in the “TAR” alone. Tibetan areas outside of the “TAR”, including Karze and Ngaba in Kham and Amdo provinces, respectively, continue to report daily Covid cases resulting in sporadic lockdowns, Chengdu being the worst-hit area in China’s Sichuan, said the exile government.

It alleged that China’s propaganda machinery has been actively covering up the situation.

“China’s state media claimed no shortcomings in the implementation of the zero-covid policy during the latest covid outbreak in Tibet. When the Covid cases escalated, Chinese authorities labelled the BA.2.76 virus as a “foreign import” and misled the public with false claims of high-quality medical services and timely supply of essential commodities,” alleged the Kashag.

Tibetans’ desperate need to tell the truth about the miserable conditions inside China’s quarantine camps and Zero-Covid’s implementation exposed these false campaigns, said the Kashag.

The CTA calls on Beijing to adequately acknowledge the public criticisms made by Tibetans who have genuinely expressed their frustration at the lack of sufficient facilities and protect them from reprisals for honest opinions of the government’s mismanagement, it added.

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