Xinjiang has been through a lot of political and social trauma in the last couple of months, what with the riots in July, syringe attacks in September, the executions that followed, continuous H1N1 scares, and an internet blackout throughout the province.
All over Xinjiang, schools are being quarantined if just one student is diagnosed with the virus. In order to combat the spread, the government has been subsidizing H1N1 tests, since diagnoses can be quite expensive. Government health notices also offer some interesting advice on how to stay healthy.
These precautions seem to be working to control further outbreak so far: Xinjiang has had only two H1N1 deaths, one outside of Urumqi and the other outside of Atlay. Most of the world’s H1N1 outbreaks have been in North and South America: the U.S. alone has had close to 3,900 deaths over the first six months of the epidemic.
Of course, no one knows for sure because the spread of information is so tightly controlled. Far West China has an interesting account of how the ethnic tensions and health precautions are affecting people’s lives and their psyche living in the media-estranged region. With little information flow, there are uncertainties and paranoia about how events will unfold in the wake of the Uyghur riots and with the ongoing public health threat of H1N1.
Despite an increasingly urgent need to get public health announcements out, China continues to block internet access throughout the province. The block was originally going to be lifted around National Day, but it is now unknown whether or not access will be available again.