The Word from Wuhan

Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, where the virus emerged, was locked down on 23 January. Since then misinformation and disinformation have dominated Chinese lives

I have now been at home for a month. I order food on my smartphone and a courier delivers it to the gate of the compound. In China, internet shopping took off after the SARS outbreak in 2003 gave Jack Ma the inspiration for Taobao, an online shopping platform on which virtually everyone these days relies. Now that the number of confirmed cases of infection is dropping, people are preparing to return to work. A real-time map allows us to monitor whether there are any cases nearby.

Those of us in quarantine spend most of our time browsing social media, commenting on news stories, rumours and conspiracy theories. People on the left call for a united front against the virus. Liberals are determined to hold the government to account for everything that has gone wrong. In the West, panda-huggers say no other government would be doing better under the circumstances; dragon-slayers are cheerleading for the end of communist rule, as they do every time there is trouble in China. Whatever happens, those arguments won’t change.

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