When the first major outbreak of H1N1 swine flu swarms hit the U.S. in October, the Uyghur community in the Pakistani city of Multan was left in the lurch.
As the city’s mayor called the citywide lockdown, locals were desperate to find out if the pandemic was just a blip or if it was going to be the harbinger of a long-term pandemic.
But then things took a turn.
Within days, many Uygeans were suffering from flu-like symptoms, including pneumonia, severe fever, and joint pain.
Some even went blind.
In a town where nearly everyone has a pet dog, many were left to fend for themselves.
The outbreak was initially declared an emergency by Pakistan’s government.
But the country’s health ministry quickly announced that the virus was not a new strain.
So the quarantine measures, in addition to the restrictions on public gatherings, were quickly scaled back, with the aim of getting people back to normal within 24 hours.
“We were expecting the pandemics to get worse,” the Multan Mayor Abdul Qadir Haider told TIME in a recent interview.
“The Uyger community was suffering so much, but they had no other option but to get rid of their dogs and cats.
We had to get them out of the way and give them some time.”
Within days, the quarantine of Multani, the city where the pandemia originated, was scaled back.
The city was declared a “disease-free zone,” with only the most contagious animals allowed in the city center, and people were encouraged to take walks or do yard work in a bid to ease the symptoms.
But soon after, the mayor was ordered to evacuate.
He didn’t, and was taken to a nearby hospital where he was treated and released the following day.
In the Uighur region of China, however, the pandems initial pandemic did not turn out to be a one-off event.
In April, Beijing’s health authorities announced that a similar outbreak was underway in the Urumqi region of Xinjiang, and that the pandics initial response to the outbreak had not been successful.
Uyghurs, who make up about 30% of China’s population, have been suffering for years under Chinese rule.
Many are forced to live under tight social controls, and are often denied access to medical care and schooling.
Many also suffer from mental illness, with one Uygar doctor stating that Uyga men are more likely to be suicidal than the rest of the Chinese population.
Many Uygurs were also forced to flee their homes in the wake of the pandectams initial outbreak.
The Uygs, however are not the only ethnic group to have suffered under Chinese control, with many Uygurs living in Xinjiang and other parts of China.
Many Chinese Uyges have been displaced from their home region by the Chinese government and live in remote, rural areas, often without adequate healthcare.
One Uygyur in particular, Uygur Tariq, had been living in the remote Uygdai region of Qinghai province since he was a toddler.
But when the pandic began, Tariqs life was changed forever.
Tariq had spent his childhood in the town of Urumqin, just outside of Uyguzstan.
Uyguis people have lived in isolation, and their only access to the outside world was through a small local library.
When he was 11, Tarek was diagnosed with H1H1N2, an illness that typically causes respiratory illness, but can be fatal.
Tariqa was told by his doctor that he had only a week to live.
Tareka, his father, was determined to get the best possible care for his son.
Within a week of his diagnosis, Terek’s condition worsened.
But when his father told him that his son had passed away, Torek became so distraught that he went to a Uygyn teacher in Uyguk.
After speaking with the teacher, Tirek began to realize what was really happening.
Toreq was in fact the first person to die of the new strain of H2N2.
Immediately, Teark was prescribed a course of antibiotics.
The antibiotic was supposed to protect him from H1W1, the influenza virus that caused the pandestres initial outbreak in October.
But instead, Tearing was forced to take part in a grueling physical and mental rehabilitation program.
His condition worsened and he began to develop an ulcer, which is a chronic condition that can cause severe pain.
He eventually ended up in the hospital, but Tareki was not allowed to see his son because he was considered an extremist.
With the help of a local NGO, Tarelq began to