Red tape was tied across the road at the entrance to the small
community Monday. Village committee members wearing face masks and
high-visibility vests manned the blockade.
Since last week, a public address system had been broadcasting
messages, residents told Reuters, warning people against inviting
guests and urging anyone who has been to Wuhan, the epicenter of a
spreading coronavirus that has killed 106 people, to register with
"We grow our own leeks ... we have a lot of frozen pork, rice and
oil. There's no need for us to go outside," villager Lu Weian, who
lives in a traditional village house with high walls, told Reuters
"Every house is its own quarantine zone," she said.
The village, hundreds of miles from Wuhan, is one of many across
China shunning outsiders amid rising panic over the virus that has
A decision by authorities to lock down travel in Hubei province, of
which Wuhan is the capital, has spurred a counter-movement of
communities closing their gates to outsiders.
Social media showed dozens of images and videos from across China of
similar vigilante efforts.
Some showed villages blocking roads with vehicles, others
constructing make-shift barriers out of tape and cinder-blocks.
Zhengding county in Hebei province, outside Beijing, on Monday began
offering 1,000 yuan ($145) to tipsters for credible information
about unregistered people who may have links to Wuhan.
"We've done our work very carefully and registered everyone coming
from the epidemic regions," said a man surnamed Ye who was manning
the tip line at the county's Communist Party office when Reuters
called on Tuesday.
"We haven't got useful tips, though there are people calling
offering clues. In most cases they spotted cars with Hubei plates,"
'LIVES COME FIRST'
The efforts aren't limited to villages.
In central Beijing, some residents and authorities are tracking and
registering people who have been to Wuhan.
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"It's our responsibility to find everyone and enforce safety... No
one should be afraid to be an informant," said Chen Gang, a retired
resident in central Dongcheng district, who is a designated
community leader in his neighborhood.
On Saturday, Chen went door-to-door helping officials check whether
people had recently visited Wuhan or had guests from Hubei. He said
several people with Wuhan links were told to stay at home for a
For people from Wuhan, the stigma is causing emotional strain.
"I think I'm the loneliest person in the world right now," said
23-year-old Peking University student Carmen Wang, a Wuhan native
who canceled plans to return home from Beijing when news of the
Wang said she has been shunned by classmates, who sent messages in a
class group chat warning others not to visit her. She orders out for
food and watches TV alone.
"Even if they came and ate food with me or hung out, if I even
sneezed, they would accuse me ... it's better this way," said Wang.
Villagers took pains to justify their exclusivity.
"It's not that we are without human emotions, but lives come first,"
read a sign attached to an earth-moving machine parked across a road
to block traffic in an image posted on social media.
A man who answered a call from Reuters to the phone number listed on
the sign declined to give the location of the village.
"I don't want to tell you because I don't want you coming here," he
($1 = 6.9040 Chinese yuan renminbi)
(Reporting by Cate Cadell and Sophie Yu; Editing by Tony Munroe and
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