China’s Hubei province and its capital, Wuhan — the origin location of the Chinese coronavirus — are currently “heavily burdened with imported cases” of the disease, China’s state-run Global Times reported on Wednesday.
“[The] Chinese foreign ministry confirmed that some Chinese nationals who returned from Afghanistan tested positive for COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] after Wuhan, capital of Central China’s Hubei Province, reported a total of 56 COVID-19 positive cases,” the Global Times wrote on July 7.
“All were from inbound international flights, 52 of whom are passengers from Afghanistan,” the newspaper added, citing data from the Hubei provincial health commission released Wednesday.
According to Hubei health officials:
Of the 56 imported cases, 25 were confirmed to be COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] patients. 22 of the confirmed cases flew to Wuhan from Afghanistan on July 2 and the other two confirmed patients came from Indonesia on June 28 and one from Indonesia on July 5, respectively.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement through its official Sina Weibo microblogging account on July 7, saying some Chinese nationals who recently returned to Hubei province from Afghanistan “have been diagnosed with COVID-19 [Chinese coronavirus] confirmed cases and asymptomatic cases.”
“Many netizens have speculated whether the returnees are a part of an evacuation plan by the Chinese government, but the ministry did not specify on that,” the Global Times noted on Wednesday. Afghanistan has experienced a grand exodus of its citizens and foreign residents in recent weeks as a North Atlantic Treaty Organization (N.A.T.O.) military coalition completed its withdrawal from the war-torn country.
Wuhan was the first city in the world to report a cluster of the then-novel Chinese coronavirus in December 2019. Despite initial denials by the Chinese government that Wuhan was suffering from anything more than a few cases of “pneumonia,” the disease spread throughout the city in subsequent weeks, mushrooming into an epidemic. Local Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials first responded to the outbreak by punishing people and medical professionals in Wuhan who tried to warn the public about the severity of the novel coronavirus. Municipal authorities eventually admitted that their city was experiencing a raging epidemic after social media posts exposed Wuhan’s draconian lockdown measures, which saw CCP authorities seal local residents inside of their homes. The quarantine of Wuhan, a city of 11 million people, lasted for 76 consecutive days.