Coronavirus: China’s drastic mass quarantine camp decision

Authorities in Wuhan have been ordered to immediately round up all coronavirus infected for mass quarantine camps, with a senior Chinese official describing the deadly outbreak as "wartime conditions".

Sun Chunlan, a vice premier in charge of the government response to the outbreak, gave the order to round up the infected and place them in isolation, quarantine or designated hospitals, The New York Times reports.

Authorities in the city of 11 million people have scrambled to meet those instructions by setting up makeshift mass quarantine shelters this week, including in a sports stadium, exhibition centre and a building complex.

Ms Sun said investigators should go to every home and check temperatures of every resident and interview the close contacts of infected patients. "Set up a 24-hour duty system. During these wartime conditions, there must be no deserters, or they will be nailed to the pillar of historical shame forever," she said.

When inspecting the Hongshan Stadium shelter on Tuesday, she said anyone who should be admitted must be rounded up. "It must be cut off from the source!" she said of the virus, according to Chinese news outlet Modern Express. "You must keep a close eye! Don't miss it!"

Posts circulating on social media have highlighted poor conditions at the makeshift facilities, with many complaining of freezing conditions, lack of medical staff and shortage of supplies.

The hospital staff could be seen wearing protective masks and body suits. Picture: Twitter
The hospital staff could be seen wearing protective masks and body suits. Picture: Twitter

 

Several doctors and nurses can be seen sleeping on the floor here. Picture: Twitter
Several doctors and nurses can be seen sleeping on the floor here. Picture: Twitter

 

A medical worker in a protective suit collects a sample for testing from a suspected virus patient at a hotel in Wuhan. Picture: Chinatopix via AP
A medical worker in a protective suit collects a sample for testing from a suspected virus patient at a hotel in Wuhan. Picture: Chinatopix via AP

 

Meanwhile, photos of exhausted doctors and nurses are being shared online in China, as the country pays tribute to the thousands of workers on the frontline of the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

More than 28000 people have been infected with the novel 2019-nCoV virus across the world, but the vast majority of cases are concentrated in Wuhan, in the country's Hubei province, where the disease was first detected.

Since December, hospitals have been inundated with ill patients and medical resources have been stretched.

Photos shared on state-owned media showed tired medics slumped over desks and sleeping on floors of unnamed hospitals, still dressed in their protective clothing.

On social media, people have dubbed the workers "heroes" and "warriors in white".

"They've been fighting for us. They've been battling the virus. They are parents, they are also daughters and sons," the Communist party's newspaper, People's Daily wrote.

 

Earlier this week, photos also emerged of the marks and sores left on nurses' faces after hours of wearing face masks.

Agonising footage also showed workers in Wuhan breaking down screaming and crying over a lack of sleep.

 

Doctors have been stretched as hospitals are inundated with ill patients. Picture: Twitter
Doctors have been stretched as hospitals are inundated with ill patients. Picture: Twitter

ANGER OVER 'STOLEN' MASKS

It comes as a second new hospital with 1500 beds built specially for treating virus patients opened in China on Thursday.

Clinical trials for a new antiviral drug, Remdesivir, were also expected to begin.

But towns and cities are still scrambling for medical supplies, in particular protective masks, with one city accusing another of intercepting and 'stealing' a vital shipment on Thursday.

The shipment had been bound for Chongqing - a municipality with 400 cases - but was taken by the government of Dali - a city with only eight confirmed cases in the southwestern province of Yunnan - according to state media.

Chongqing told Dali to give them back, but the Dali government said it had already distributed the 598 boxes of masks and so could not retrieve them.

The spat prompted widespread anger on China's social media, with many users accusing Dali of theft.

Wuhan, meanwhile, has called on public support for protective supplies such as masks and suits.

-With wires

This medic was spotted sleeping at their desk. Picture: Twitter
This medic was spotted sleeping at their desk. Picture: Twitter
China has built two new hospitals over last month, hoping to ease the strain. Picture: Twitter
China has built two new hospitals over last month, hoping to ease the strain. Picture: Twitter

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