It’s easy to forget that the coronavirus/COVID-19 outbreak which is dominating headlines around the globe originated in Wuhan, China. Coverage of the virus focused on Wuhan for weeks, but as the disease spread to new regions and began to outpace new infections within China itself, the focus has shifted.

Despite waning coverage of the city where the outbreak began, life in Wuhan may be worse than ever, and a first-hand account from inside the city reveals the struggles its residents are currently dealing with. A lengthy essay written by one Wuhan resident has been published by NPR, and it’s chilling. Put simply, it’s like “living in hell.”

The author, who has chosen to remain anonymous out of fear of backlash from the Chinese government, describes a city gripped by fear, and a way of life that is not being widely reported anywhere.

At the moment when the city was first locked down, I hoped with all my heart that China’s political system, known for concentrating resources to get big jobs done, could save the Wuhanese. But infected patients were treated in the hospital in Wuhan as early as the beginning of December, and for unknown reasons, the government held off informing the public and taking effective action.

According to the author, things only got worse after the government issued a mandatory lockdown. Panic spread quickly after that, and residents “rushed to shop at 24-hour convenience stores at 3 a.m. to gather necessary food and other items,” according to the story. Anyone who tried to flee the city found every exit route cut off.

Before this coronavirus, I always thought it was OK to sacrifice some level of democracy and freedom for better living conditions. But now I have changed my attitude. Without democracy and freedom, the truth of the outbreak in Wuhan would never be known.

The entire saga is worth reading in its entirety, and I would encourage you to head over to NPR right now and do so. It’s an eye-opening look at life inside a city in crisis, locked down by the government that is in place to protect its people.

Mike Wehner has reported on technology and video games for the past decade, covering breaking news and trends in VR, wearables, smartphones, and future tech. Most recently, Mike served as Tech Editor at The Daily Dot, and has been featured in USA Today, Time.com, and countless other web and print outlets. His love of reporting is second only to his gaming addiction.