Published: 15:04, February 26, 2020 | Updated: 07:21, June 6, 2023
Vice-minister blames China prison virus on mismanagement
By Yang Zekun

This photo taken on Feb 21, 2020 shows the gate of Wuhan women's prison in Hubei province. (ZHU XINGXIN / CHINADAILY.COM.CN)

A total of 555 confirmed and 19 suspected cases of the novel coronavirus were reported from five prisons in three provinces as of Tuesday, said Xiong Xuanguo, vice-minister of justice, on Wednesday.

The spread of the epidemic in prisons has fully exposed that there are loopholes in prison management and epidemic prevention and control in prisons, Xiong said.

Vice-Minister of Justice Xiong Xuanguo said a total of 555 confirmed coronavirus cases were reported from 5 prisons in 3 provinces as of Tuesday, of which 4 people are in criticial condition, and 11 have recovered

Among the infected, four people are in critical condition, and 11 have recovered. There were no deaths reported in the prisons. No other prisons across the country have seen cases of prisoners being infected, Xiong said.

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The women's prison, one of the infected five prisons, in Wuhan of Hubei province, the epicenter of the outbreak, is less than 100 meters from a local lung hospital. The prison police officers and patients usually shared a public bus station, so the imported infections may have happened before the prison was fully closed, according to Xiong.

The inadequate management of the prison is another reason behind the spread, Xiong said. The outbreaks occurred in Hanjian prison in Hubei, Shilifeng prison in Zhejiang province, and Rencheng prison in Shandong province because some policemen failed to report truthfully that they had contact with people from the epidemic area, resulting in the imported infections.

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"We will resolutely put an end to loopholes in prison management and curb the spread in prisons," Xiong said. "Prisoners with fever or respiratory symptoms will be isolated in a timely manner for observation and treatment."