Health and Science

China says more than 500 cases of the new coronavirus stemmed from prisons

Key Points
  • In Hubei, there are 230 cases of the new coronavirus at the Wuhan Women's prison and 41 cases at the Shayang Hanjin prison, according to a report from the province's state-run newspaper on Friday.
  • Shandong province also reported Friday that 207 cases of the new virus were reported in Rencheng prison as of Feb. 20.
  • A jail in Zhejiang province has also reported a total of 34 infections. All of them were inmates, according to Chinese media.
A Chinese man who is a member of the neighborhood committee, center, and security guards wear protective masks as they control entry and exit from a residential area on February 20, 2020 in Beijing, China.
Kevin Frayer

China reported some 512 coronavirus cases from four prisons, and two of those facilities are located in Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak.

In Hubei, there are 230 COVID-19 cases at the Wuhan Women's prison and 41 cases at the Shayang Hanjin prison, according to a report from the province's state-run newspaper on Friday.

At about mid-day on Friday, Hubei province's health commission revised higher the number of confirmed cases to account for a written report from the prison department that disclosed well over 200 cases in its system. Of 271 prison cases, 51 were previously already included in regional figures.

Up north, Shandong province's Rencheng prison reported 207 confirmed cases of the virus, according to state news agency Xinhua on Friday.

Seven of those infected are prison officers while the rest are inmates, Xinhua said, adding that prison officers started reporting symptoms in early February.

Xie Weijin, the provincial judicial department chief was removed from his post, Communist Party-owned People's Daily said in a tweet. Xinhua said his departure was a result of inadequate epidemic prevention and control. All are being treated and isolated, the state news agency added.

The Shilifeng prison in Zhejiang province also reported a total of 34 infections, including 27 new confirmed cases on Thursday. All of them are inmates, according to Chinese media. Two officials were removed from their post in this case, reported the Global Times, another government-owned news outlet.

Before the revised Hubei numbers were released, China's National Health Commission had said there were 889 new confirmed cases as of Feb. 20, bringing the total confirmed cases to 75,465. The death toll in mainland China so far is 2,236.

"Jails are becoming the new battleground, Nomura economists said in a morning note on Friday, after pointing out that there's been a big sudden rebound of new cases outside Hubei.