More than 500 new coronavirus cases are detected in PRISONS across China, fuelling concerns about new clusters of the epidemic
- At least nine Communist officials and two prison chiefs got sacked as a result
- Clusters were found in multiple jails in Hubei, Shandong and Zhejiang Province
- Beijing has sent out a team of investigators to Shandong to probe the situation
- Overnight, China reported 889 new cases compared to 394 from the day before
More than 500 cases of the new coronavirus have been detected in prisons across China, officials said Friday, fuelling concerns about new clusters of the epidemic.
At least nine Communist officials and two prison chiefs from three provinces were sacked as a result before Beijing sent out a special team to investigate the situation.
Overnight, China’s National Health Commission reported 889 new cases. The figure more than doubles the toll from the day before, which was a record low in weeks.
Globally, the coronavirus epidemic has killed at least 2,247 people and infected more than 76,700, and has spread to at least two dozen countries.
Hubei Province in central China said 271 cases were reported by its prisons on Thursday, including 220 that had previously not been known to provincial authorities (file photo)
Cluster cases were found in multiple jails in three Chinese provinces: Hubei, Shandong and Zhejiang. At least nine Communist officials and two prison chiefs were fired. The picture shows police and medical workers stop vehicles on a highway for checks in Guangzhou on Tuesday
The novel coronavirus has killed at least 2,247 people and infected more than 76,700 globally
Hubei, the hard-hit central province where the virus emerged late last year, said Friday that 271 cases were reported by its prisons on Thursday, including 220 that had previously not been known to provincial authorities.
Local Communist Party newspaper Hubei Daily reported that 230 of the prison cases came from a single facility, the Wuhan Women’s Prison, whose warden has been removed for failing to prevent the outbreak, while the other 41 cases were reported at the Hanjin Prison in Shayang county.
Seven guards and 200 inmates also tested positive for the virus at Rencheng prison in eastern Shandong province, the provincial health commission said at a press conference.
Xie Weijun, head of Shandong’s justice department, was sacked over the outbreak along with two other provincial prison administration officials and five officials from the penitentiary, the provincial government said.
A recovered patient (centre in wheelchair), 83, is discharged from Leishenshan Hospital, the newly-built makeshift hospital for novel coronavirus patients, in Wuhan on February 18
Coronavirus patients recuperate in a temporary hospital converted in Wuhan on February 18
Workers walk at Leishenshan, the newly-built makeshift hospital, in Wuhan on February 18
Wu Lei, director of Shandong’s prison administration, said the new cases showed that ‘the implementation of our prevention and control measures has not been effective’.
Another 34 cases were found at Shilifeng prison in eastern Zhejiang province, leading to the ouster of its director and another official, the Zhejiang government announced.
State newspaper People’s Daily said the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, the Chinese authority for political and legal affairs, had set up a special team to investigate the outbreak in the prison in Shandong.
Hubei announced earlier on Friday that a total of 411 new cases of the virus were confirmed in the province on Thursday, but later revised its figure up to 631 to include the prison numbers.
The clusters came as Chinese authorities have pointed to a drop in officially reported new cases this week as evidence that quarantines and other drastic measures to contain the virus are working.
More than 76,700 patients have been infected, including more than 1,000 outside of China
Over 2,200 people have now died from the killer coronavirus rapidly sweeping the world
Officials said on Thursday that only 394 new cases – the lowest figure in a month – had been reported from the day before.
Most of China remains paralysed over fears of contagion, with schools remaining closed and Beijing ordering those returning to the city to self-quarantine for 14 days.
New cases at two hospitals in the country’s capital have also emerged.
Health officials said 36 patients, medical workers and family members have been infected with the virus at Beijing’s Fuxing hospital, which has been partially sealed off since January 31.
An elderly woman receiving kidney treatment at Peking University People’s Hospital also tested positive after two infected relatives visited her earlier this month, the hospital said.
People who came into close contact with those infected at both hospitals are being monitored, while 12 women and 10 infants from the obstetrics ward have been ordered to leave Peking University People’s Hospital for their safety, authorities said.
Members of China’s Uighur minority living in exile have also warned of the risk of the coronavirus spreading in internment camps, where rights groups say more than one million people have been rounded up by authorities.
The virus spreads through droplets disseminated by sneezing or coughing, highlighting the risks for large groups of confined people, possibly without adequate access to soap and water.
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