Chinese authorities have been accused of leaving people to ‘starve and die’ after shocking videos emerged of police barricading families into their homes to stop the spread of coronavirus.
Footage sent to Metro.co.uk shows masked men nailing huge metal bars over the doors and windows of people feared to be infected with the deadly disease.
In one, a woman can be heard screaming and pleading as uniformed officers lock her inside.
A sign outside her sealed off door reads: ‘This family came back from Wuhan. Stay away, no contact’.
The video is believed to have emerged from Nantong, in the JiangSu province, but censorship laws make its origin difficult to trace.
Chinese human rights activist Fengsuo Zhou told Metro.co.uk he had seen videos of this nature in at least four different locations across the country.
He said lock-downs were being ordered by central government to cover up criticism they were too slow to act against the coronavirus crisis.
He told this news site: ‘People are feeling desperate and angry. The Chinese government is more focused on censorship than public welfare because they know their credibility is challenged
‘They have covered up the crucial information too long. Doctors were censured by police for talking about the pandemic one month ago.’
Coronavirus has killed almost 300 people and spread to over 17 countries since emerging in Wuhan in December 2019.
The city and around 20 other neighbouring states in the Hubei province have been on lock-down for over a week, isolating some 50 million people in a sweeping control measure to stop the infection spreading.
Images show usually bustling streets completely deserted, with people only allowed to leave their homes to buy food and face masks.
But some are being denied even that basic right if they are thought to have been struck down with the pneumonia-like flu.
An India-based human rights activist, who wanted to be known only as Tarun, said people have begun digging up roads leading to Wuhan and Hubei to stop people leaving their homes.
He accused the government of leaving people to ‘starve and die’ and likened the lock-downs to ‘cold blooded murder’.
Just rec’d a video from someone in Beijing. She says people in #Wuhan r locking down the infected people within their homes, so that they can’t escape out in the open, in a bid to stop the spread of #coronarvirues . The infected families r being left to starve & die. Horrific 😢 pic.twitter.com/shsIV9ICcP
— Tarun ཡེཨར་ཨོཕ༹་མོནཀ (@YearOfMonk) January 28, 2020
He told Metro.co.uk: ‘My friend says that the public as well as authorities are locking down infected people within their homes, so that they can’t come out in the open, as the public doesn’t wants such people to come in their contact.
‘It’s also being said that public has dug up roads leading to Wuhan/Hubei, so that people of these places can’t enter other areas, due to the fear of being infected.’
He said he had friends across China who were in panic mode as things go from ‘bad to worse’.
However, they are unable to voice their struggle to the rest of the world because social media is so heavily regulated.
The Chinese government has tried to silence information regarding the epidemic in a bid to down play it.
Dozens of people have been arrested for ‘rumour-mongering’, online discussions have been censored and journalists have been banned from reporting on it.
Among the detainees was a doctor who warned friends about the mystery illness on a private WeChat group. He is now in critical condition with Coronavirus, according to the Human Rights Watch.
The NGO said people under quarantine are being denied access to life-saving medicine, public health advice and other necessities that amount to a breach of human rights.
The organisation said: ‘Authorities in places outside of Hubei province should prohibit discrimination and harassment against people from Hubei and ensure their equal access to housing and medical care.
‘Violating the rights of tens of millions of people in the effort to address the coronavirus outbreak will be counterproductive. Transparency and engaging civil society will be the far better approach.’