10 Feb 2020
Chinese citizen journalist 'forcibly quarantined' after reporting on coronavirus
The citizen journalist, Chen Qiushi (34), has been unreachable since Thursday. Qiushi's family alleged that he has been forcibly quarantined.
Since the viral outbreak started mid-December, China has been accused of downplaying the situation and censoring news reports.
Qiushi's mother says he was 'forcibly quarantined'
According to CNN, Qiushi's friends had been checking on him regularly, fearing his physical safety. Qiushi stopped answering their calls Thursday evening.
The next day, a friend shared on Twitter a video of Qiushi's mother saying her son had disappeared.
In another message—shared by Qiushi's friend and mixed martial artist Xu Xiaodong on YouTube—the mother said he had been forcibly quarantined.
Authorities allegedly refused to reveal Qiushi's whereabouts to mother
Xu reportedly said, "In the last few hours, the Qingdao public security officers and state security officers... notified Qiushi's parents that Qiushi has already been detained in the name of quarantine. Qiushi's mother immediately asked them where and when he was taken away, they declined to say."
In her video message, Qiushi's mother begged everyone to "find out what's going on with him."
Qiushi highlighted untreated corpses, patients on his videos
A former lawyer, Qiushi visited Wuhan—the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak—on January 24
From Wuhan, Qiushi shared shocking videos of untreated corpses and patients, the condition of quarantined patients, and the police's efforts to enforce censorship. The videos went viral on Twitter and YouTube.
Although both platforms are blocked in China, many Chinese people use virtual private networks to bypass the Great Firewall.
Qiushi filmed last year's Hong Kong protests; questioned by authorities
Incidentally, Qiushi had also crossed paths with Chinese authorities when he reported on last year's pro-democracy protests in China's semi-autonomous region of Hong Kong.
Qiushi challenged the government's version that the protesters were "rioters" and "separatists," saying that "most of them were peaceful."
He was summoned to Beijing, questioned by authorities, and his social media handles were deleted.
Chinese authorities recently detained another citizen journalist
Another citizen journalist, Fang Bin, was briefly detained by authorities earlier this month. He had shared videos from a Wuhan hospital, where he witnessed eight bodies within five minutes.
Reports of censorship come amid widespread anger over the death of the Wuhan doctor, Li Wenliang, who tried to warn authorities about a new "SARS-like" virus. However, authorities initially dismissed his warnings as "rumors."
Coronavirus death toll crosses 900; over 40,000 infected
Meanwhile, the coronavirus has killed 908 people in mainland China, one in Hong Kong, and another in the Philippines (global death toll: 910).
Declared a global health emergency by the World Health Organization, the outbreak involves a new strain, called 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which impacts a host's respiratory system, causing flu-like symptoms.
The virus has infected over 40,000 people worldwide, mostly in China.