China's Xinjiang Region Forces Unproven Herbal Medicine On People Amid COVID-19

The government in China’s Xinjiang region is reportedly resorting to unproven medicine to curb the spread of deadly coronavirus. According to Associated Press, a Uighur woman, who was arrested at the height China’s COVID-19 outbreak, claimed that she was forced to drink a medicine which made her feel weak and nauseous, while the guards watched her gulp it. She reportedly even said that the prison officers stripped her and others naked and hosed them with disinfectants ‘like firemen’. 

As per the news agency, the Xinjiang government is using ‘draconian’ measures to combat the deadly virus, including physically locking residents in homes, imposing quarantines of over 40 days and arresting those who do not comply. While health experts called it a breach of medical ethics, some residents reported that they were being forced to swallow traditional Chinese medicine. The experts noted that there is a lack of rigorous clinical data showing that the herbal medicine works against the virus, which includes ingredients banned in Germany, Switzerland, the US and other countries for high-level toxins and carcinogens. 

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Xinjiang has been recording new confirmed cases of coronavirus. Even though other regions such as Wuhan and Hubei detected more cases than Xinjiang, residents weren’t forced to take the traditional medicine and were generally allowed outdoors within their compounds for exercise or grocery deliveries. However, in Xinjiang, over 25 million people are reportedly under strict lockdown, which extends hundreds of miles from the centre of the outbreak in the capital, Urumqi.  

Xinjian turned into digital police state 

Xinjiang’s lockdown has reportedly turned the region into a digital police state. While the Xinjiang authorities have arrested people from ethnic minorities and placed them into various forms of detention, after being released, people have claimed that now they have been locked into their homes. While speaking to a media outlet, the Uighur woman said that once a day community workers force traditional herbal medicine in white unmarked bottles on her, saying she will be detained if she doesn’t drink them. Meanwhile, the authorities, on the other hand, said that the measures taken are for the well-being of all residents. 

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The Chinese government has struggled to control Xinjiang. Health experts noted that the region’s authorities can carry out harsh measures because of its lavishly funded security apparatus. Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian said that “Xinjiang Autonomous Region upheld the principle of people and life first and guaranteed the safety and health of local people of all ethnic groups”. It was also noted that the measures are not just for ethnic minority people, but are also being enforced on China’s majority Han residents in the region. 

Since the outbreak, the Chinese government has pushed for its traditional medicine on its citizens. President also reportedly advocated a revival of traditional Chinese culture. While some state-backed doctors said they have conducted trials showing the medicine works against the virus, it was noted that no rigorous clinical data supporting that claim has been published in international scientific journals.

(Inputs from AP)

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