The one thing China can't afford at this very moment is social unrest.
Every day the lockdown continues, public anger grows and could soon be at a tipping point where riots breakout.
元朗西地铁站连农墙有黑帮袭击在场的市民，包括大师等几个人受伤。有几位区议员也都去了现场。请大家关注！pic.twitter.com/oldBBPiq9V— Guang Dang (@ftr7vm) January 31, 2020
Millions are outraged that virus masks and other medical supplies are in short quantities, and how there's no early detection test of the virus nor vaccine.
As anxieties rise and citizens channel their anger towards authorities for failing to keep the population safe, state broadcaster CCTV ran a rare segment placing some of the coronavirus blame on the head of the health commission of Huanggang, a city that has a similar population size as New York City, has the second-largest number of coronavirus cases.
China's National Broadcaster CCTV aired this: the director of Health Commission in Huanggang city, the 2nd most serious affected city in the #coronavirus Hubei, barely knew anything about the spread and local treatment situation. This angers people in China. #news #journalism pic.twitter.com/wrjSyw1CfW— Yubin Du (@du_yubin) January 30, 2020
CCTV blasted Huanggang's health commission Tang Zhihong and head of the local center for disease control and prevention Chen Mingxing, who were both unable to provide an accurate account of coronavirus cases, deaths, and status of hospitals. The segment has so far been viewed 130 million times since it was posted on China's Weibo on Thursday, a sign of the increasing frustration among citizens.
"I don't know, I'm unclear," Tang said when asked how many sick people there were.
"I only know how many beds there are. Don't ask me how many people are being treated."
A top comment on the Weibo video said:
"Our taxpayers' money goes to support this group of good-for-nothing."
It was revealed Friday that Huanggang fired Tang, mostly because the CCTV video on Weibo got so much traction.
The city sacking the top public health official has yet to relieve public anger. The health department has reported that as many as 500 confirmed coronavirus cases have been reported in the city, with 12 deaths (Thursday figures). The number is likely to exponentially rise as local hospitals have run out of capacity to serve sick citizens, test kits for the virus are in short supplies, and there's still no vaccine to treat the sick.
"Huanggang is one of the most affected places by the novel coronavirus and local health officials are like this, so scary," said one Weibo user.
"These officials' attitude and capacity astonished me…How many officials like them are there in Hubei? They should be reported," read another comment on Weibo.
As the virus spreads in an uncontrollable fashion, and cities are locked in the weeks ahead, there's a chance that social unrest could develop in outbreak zones -- this would be the worst nightmare for the Communist Party of China.