Voices from Hubei, two weeks into coronavirus lockdown

Group chats counting the number of those infected and dead reflect the grim reality of life in the current coronavirus outbreak, which started in Wuhan, Hubei Province, and has spread to every province in China, as well as Taiwan, Hong Kong, Macau and at least 24 other countries around the world.

In one such group, former high school classmates spoke to Al Jazeera about their conditions under government-imposed lockdown in Hubei for the past two weeks.

Much of the province has remained sealed off since the last week of January, as China tries to contain the spread of the virus by enforcing travel limitations and implementing quarantines that have affected an estimated 60 million people.

As of Saturday, the total number of confirmed deaths from the coronavirus in China has risen to 722, with at least 34,546 confirmed cases. The majority of those infected are in Hubei province.

“Here are today’s numbers,” Ms Hou, 32, who asked that only her family name be mentioned, wrote last week about the count of infected patients in Shiyan, in northwest Hubei where she lives.

Most of the members of the group chat used to study together in Wuhan, and now work outside the city, returning to their hometowns in Hubei for holidays like the Lunar New Year.

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