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4 Apr 2022

CHRIS BUCKLEY, The New York Times (USA)

China: Coronavirus outbreak in Jilin exposes plight of rural migrant workers


"In an industrial Chinese province, some workers say they’ve been quarantined in the hospitals they were building" 31 March 2022

Jilin, an industrial province in northeastern China, is at the front line of the country’s latest coronavirus outbreak, leaving medical workers and migrant laborers there struggling to cope with restrictions. [...]

In recent days, messages have spread on China’s internet describing rural migrant workers in Jilin who have tested positive for the coronavirus and then come under quarantine. Some have complained of lack of medical treatment and economic support. They included laborers who, in a twist of irony, said they had helped build the makeshift hospitals to treat Covid patients there. [...] One infected worker who posted the plea online said in a telephone interview that he had been locked up in the same hospital he had just built as a day laborer, along with dozens of other infected workers. He said he had a fever and sometimes could not get medicine while medical staff members struggled to tend to 300 patients. He said that he was not being paid for his time in quarantine and would miss the spring planting season on his farm.

On Monday, officials in Hebei Province, near Beijing, confirmed that two workers who had traveled to Jilin to help build the Covid hospitals had returned home infected with the coronavirus.

At a news conference on Monday, an official from the Jilin city government — the city is a namesake of the province — acknowledged that workers on a building site for a Covid hospital there had been infected. The official said that the spread had been stopped and “the workers’ rights have been effectively protected and assured.”

Calls to Jilin province government’s press office went unanswered, and an official at the province’s health department said he did not know about the workers’ complaints. [...]