Lack of compliance worsening UK’s Covid-19 outbreak, says ex-Wuhan resident

A Chinese citizen living in London, who got trapped in Wuhan during the peak of the pandemic, has said China was able to get a quicker grip on the virus because people are more obedient and inclined to listen to science.

Xi Lu, 31, spent 141 days in Wuhan after he became stuck during a visit to see family in the city.

His wife remained in the UK when he went abroad in January and he was eventually able to return to London, where he has lived for the last seven years, in July.

Just six months ago, Wuhan was home to one of the world’s first, and strictest, lockdowns.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>He was separated from his wife for 173 days (Xi Lu/PA)</figcaption>
He was separated from his wife for 173 days (Xi Lu/PA)

The city was sealed off from the rest of China, with people discouraged from leaving their homes except for groceries, and face masks mandatory. During the 76 days of strict lockdown, Mr Lu only went outside occasionally, to collect deliveries from the entrance to his residential area.

However, now with measures largely lifted, more than 18 million tourists flocked to the city for China’s Golden Week at the start of October.

Despite the mass movement of people, the country has not reported another large outbreak of Covid cases.

Mr Lu told the PA news agency there was a significant cultural difference, with Chinese citizens more likely to follow the rules mandated by their government.

He said: “In China if there is a rule, we follow the rule. If we see somebody not following the rules, we don’t need to punish them, we need to make sure they are aware of their violations against the rules.

“Most of the Chinese people, in particular the younger generation, they have had more than 15 years of obligatory education. So most of the younger generation, they believe in the science. They just follow whatever the scientists say.

“Wear the mask? We wear the mask. And we tell our parents and grandparents to wear the mask.

<figcaption class='imgFCap'>Xi Lu in Wuhan, during one of the few times he left his residential area to buy groceries (Xi Lu/PA)</figcaption>
Xi Lu in Wuhan, during one of the few times he left his residential area to buy groceries (Xi Lu/PA)

“We wouldn’t say ‘let’s take the mask off because I can’t breathe right’, because we know this virus is there.”

Chinese people were more likely to report their neighbours for violating the rules, something Mr Lu said he did himself during lockdown.

He said if people continue to be anti-mask and anti-vaccine, there would be a third wave and lockdown in the spring, followed by a fourth next winter.

Mr Lu said he respected those who said lockdown restrictions were an impact on their freedom: “But freedom is only a relative word for me. We do ask for freedom, but our freedom does not get in the way of other’s freedom.

“If we do that, we are kind of stealing two months of freedom, by going out to the bar with friends.

“If there is no one left, there are no human rights.”