Health, Asia - Pacific

Heads roll over coronavirus outbreak in China prisons

Over 500 new cases in jails in 3 Chinese provinces, while South Korea confirms 100 more cases, including 7 in Seoul

Riyaz ul Khaliq   | 21.02.2020
Heads roll over coronavirus outbreak in China prisons


China suspended several officials after more than 500 new coronavirus cases were confirmed at prisons in three provinces, local media reported on Friday.

The outbreak was confirmed in prisons in Hubei, Shandong, and Zhejiang provinces, according to the South China Morning Post.

In Hubei, the country’s worst-affected province, 271 cases of infection were reported in two prisons; 230 at a women’s jail in Wuhan and 41 at Hanjin Prison in Shayang county.

Two Hubei prison officials were sacked, the local daily reported.

The tally in the eastern Shandong province was 207, with 200 inmates and seven prison officers testing positive for the coronavirus disease, COVID-19, at a jail in Jining city.

Seven prison officers and the Communist Party’s secretary for Shandong's department of justice were fired over the development.

The least cases were in the southern Zhejiang province, where 34 prisoners were infected at Shilifeng jail and two officials were sacked.

Following 889 fatalities in the past 24 hours, the death toll in China rose to 2,238 on Friday. The number of confirmed cases was nearly 76,000, of which almost 12,000 were said to be in critical condition.

On the other hand, the number of people cured of COVID-19 has also increased, according to officials.

China’s National Health Commission said 2,109 people walked out of hospital after recovery on Thursday.

This was the highest number of people discharged from hospitals since the outbreak stared last December.

The total number of patients released from medical facilities now stands at 18,264. 

South Korea on alert 

South Korea’s coronavirus battle is also becoming tougher as the country confirmed 100 new cases on Friday, Yonhap News Agency reported.

The total number of infections now stands at 204, the Korea Center for Disease Control and Prevention said.

Seven of the new cases were in Seoul, while a majority, 86, were traced to church services in the southeastern city of Daegu, which is just 300 kilometers (186 miles) from the capital.

Daegu is a city of 2.5 million people and its residents have been told to stay indoors as authorities seek to curb the infection’s spread.

Additionally, South Korea announced that a member of its armed forces contracted COVID-19, the country’s first such case.

Officials in Seoul said the naval officer deployed on the southern island of Jeju was confirmed to be a carrier of the coronavirus.

China’s Davos likely postponed

China reportedly decided to postpone the Boao Forum for Asia, an annual gathering of Asia’s top businessmen and politicians, according to South China Morning Post.

The high-level conference, held on the pattern of the World Economic Forum’s annual Davos event, was to be held on the tropical island of Hainan from March 24-27.

The local daily cited sources who said the event will be delayed, but an official announcement is still awaited.

Beijing earlier decided to delay the National People’s Congress, the country’s annual parliamentary gathering which was to begin on March 5.

Two Australians infected on Diamond Princess

Two Australian citizens evacuated from the virus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan tested positive for COVID-19, Japan's Kyodo News reported.

They were among 160 others evacuated to Australia, where the total number of confirmed cases now stands at 17.

Over 3,700 passengers from 56 countries were quarantined on the ship in Japanese waters for over two weeks.

While some countries evacuated their citizens from the ship, many remain onboard and are not allowed to disembark.

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