More than 500 cases of the new corona virus have been detected in prisons throughout China, which caused fears about the virus’s ability to spread rapidly in confined areas.
As a result, at least nine communist officials and two prison chiefs from three provinces were fired before Beijing sent a special team to investigate the situation.
Meanwhile, Iran has confirmed 13 new cases of the killer virus and two new deaths, bringing the total number of fatalities to four, the highest number outside mainland China.
Italy has also announced its first three cases of SARS-CoV-2, after a 38-year-old man said it was one friend who had recently returned from China and infected two others.
At night, the Chinese National Health Commission reported 889 new cases. The figure more than doubled the day before, which was a record low in weeks.
The coronavirus epidemic has killed at least 2,247 people and infected more than 76,700 worldwide and spread to at least two dozen countries.
Hubei province in central China said 271 prisons were reported Thursday by the prisons, including 220 that were previously unknown to the provincial authorities (photo of the file)
Cluster cases were found in multiple prisons in three Chinese provinces: Hubei, Shandong and Zhejiang. At least nine communist officials and two prison chiefs were fired. The photo shows police and medical workers stopping vehicles on a highway for checks in Guangzhou on Tuesday
The new coronavirus has killed at least 2,247 people and infected more than 76,700 worldwide
Hubei, the severely affected central province where the virus occurred late last year, said Friday that 271 cases were reported by its prisons on Thursday, including 220 that were previously unknown to the 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 director was removed because the outbreak could not be prevented, while the other 41 cases were reported to the Hanjin Prison in Shayang County.
Seven guards and 200 prisoners also tested positive for the virus in Rencheng Prison in eastern Shandong province, the provincial health commission said during a press conference.
Xie Weijun, chief of the Shandong Justice Department, was fired on the outbreak along with two other provincial prison officials and five prison officials, the provincial government said.
A recovered patient (center in wheelchair), 83, is discharged on February 18 from Leishenshan Hospital, the newly built temporary hospital for new coronavirus patients.
Coronavirus patients recover in a temporary hospital that was converted on February 18 in Wuhan
Employees walk on February 18 in Leishenshan, the newly built improvised hospital
Wu Lei, Shandong prison administration director, said the new cases showed that “the implementation of our prevention and control measures was ineffective.”
A further 34 cases were found in Shilifeng Prison in eastern Zhejiang Province, which led to the expulsion of the director and another official, the Zhejiang government announced.
State newspaper People’s Daily said the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, the Chinese political and legal affairs authority, had set up a special team to investigate the outbreak at the Shandong prison.
Earlier on Friday, Hubei announced that a total of 411 new cases of the virus were confirmed in the province on Thursday, but later revised his figure to 631 to include prison numbers.
The clusters came when the Chinese authorities pointed to a decrease in officially reported new cases this week as proof that quarantines and other drastic measures to control the virus work.
More than 76,700 patients are infected, including more than 1,000 outside of China
More than 2,200 people have now died of the murderous corona virus that is sweeping the world fast
Officials said Thursday that only 394 new cases – the lowest figure in a month – had been reported from the day before.
Most of China remains paralyzed by the fear of infection, with schools closed and Beijing ordering those returning to the city to quarantine for 14 days.
New cases in two hospitals in the country’s capital have also emerged.
Health officials said 36 patients, health care workers, and family members were infected with the virus at Fuxing Hospital in Beijing, which has been partially closed since January 31.
An elderly woman who received kidney treatment at Peking University People’s Hospital also tested positive after two infected family members visited her earlier this month, the hospital said.
People who have been in close contact with those infected in both hospitals are being monitored, while 12 women and 10 babies from the delivery department have been ordered to leave Beijing University People’s Hospital for their safety, the authorities said.
Members of the Chinese Uighur minority living in exile have also warned of the risk of coronavirus spreading in internment camps, where according to rights groups more than one million people have been arrested by authorities.
The virus spreads through droplets spread through sneezing or coughing, and points to the risks for large groups of people with limited access, possibly without adequate access to soap and water.