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China has sent a team of investigators to several correctional facilities after a coronavirus outbreak in its prison systems was reported on February 20.
Five prisons in three provinces reported high amounts of coronavirus infections with more than 500 prisoners and guards infected.
“With a heavy heart and sense of responsibility, I am reporting to you that as of February 20, five prisons in Hubei, Shandong and Zhejiang have reported infections among their populations,” said Justice Ministry official, He Ping.
Director of prison fired
According to local media, the director of the Wuhan Women’s Prison has been dismissed after 230 inmates were found to have contracted the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19. About 200 inmates at the Rencheng Prison in Shandong were confirmed to have contracted the virus, along with seven guards.
Meanwhile, the Shilifen Prison in the east Chinese province of Zhejiang reported 34 cases of coronavirus cases. 41 more confirmed coronavirus cases were found in a prison in the city of Jingmen in Hubei province.
Virus came from infected guard
According to the Shandong officials, a guard who was diagnosed with the coronavirus on February 13 was identified as the “superspreader” of the prison virus outbreak
The guard reportedly went to visit his family on January 14 for five days.
He reported for duty at the prison in Shandong, without informing his employers of his past whereabouts. Inmates from the infected prisons are currently quarantined in hotels.
Another doctor has died
Another medical professional succumbed to the deadly coronavirus on February 20.
In Wuhan, a 29-year-old doctor who worked at the respiratory and critical care unit in Wuhan’s First People’s Hospital died at the Jinyintan hospital while seeking emergency treatment.
The doctor, named Peng Yinhua, contracted the virus on January 25 and emergency treatment was sent for when his condition had not improved by January 30.
Much has been written about Peng Yinhua’s sacrifice in the local media including the postponing of his wedding in order to resume his work at the hospital. On social media, tributes to the young doctor poured in after news of his death broke.
Mainland China’s death toll from confirmed coronavirus cases stands at 2,345 as of February 22 with 76,288 total cases reported.