New Hotspots For COVID-19/Coronavirus: Prisons

More than 500 cases of the killer coronavirus have been detected in prisons across China, fuelling fears about the infection’s ability to spread rapidly in confined areas.

In response to the crisis, nine Communist officials and two prison chiefs from three provinces were sacked. Beijing has now sent out a special team to investigate the situation, which has seen guards stuck down by SARS-CoV-2 as well as inmates.

It comes as China’s National Health Commission today reported 889 new cases of the never-before-seen virus. The figure is more than double the toll that was recorded the day before (394), which was the lowest in almost a month.

In other developments today to the coronavirus crisis, which has struck down almost 77,000 people worldwide and killed more than 2,200:

  • Iran confirmed 13 new cases of the killer virus and two new deaths, bringing its total fatalities to four – the highest amount outside of mainland China
  • Italy announced three new cases of SARS-CoV-2, after a 38-year-old man caught it from a friend who’d recently returned from China
  • Israel reported its first case of the contagious virus – a passenger who caught it on the quarantined Diamond Princess cruise ship, docked off the coast of Japan
  • Lebanon’s Minister of Health confirmed a 45-year-old woman has become the first case of the virus in the country, sparking fears of an outbreak in the Middle East
  • South Korea’s prime minister said the country was in ’emergency’ mode after cases quadrupled to 204 in the space of two days

The novel coronavirus has killed at least 2,249 people and infected more than 76,700 globally

Hubei Province in central China said 271 cases were reported by its prisons on Thursday, including 220 that had previously not been known to provincial authorities. The picture shows police and medical workers stop vehicles on a highway for checks in Guangzhou on Tuesday

Hubei Province in central China said 271 cases were reported by its prisons on Thursday, including 220 that had previously not been known to provincial authorities. The picture shows police and medical workers stop vehicles on a highway for checks in Guangzhou on Tuesday

Hubei, the hard-hit central province where the virus emerged late last year, said Friday that 271 cases were reported by its prisons on Thursday, including 220 that had previously not been known to 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 warden has been removed for failing to prevent the outbreak, while the other 41 cases were reported at the Hanjin Prison in Shayang county.

Seven guards and 200 inmates also tested positive for the virus at Rencheng prison in eastern Shandong province, the provincial health commission confirmed.

Xie Weijun, head of Shandong’s justice department, was sacked over the outbreak along with seven other prison officials.


Hubei, the hard-hit central province where the virus emerged late last year, said Friday that 271 cases were reported by its prisons on Thursday, including 220 that had previously not been known to 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 warden has been removed for failing to prevent the outbreak, while the other 41 cases were reported at the Hanjin Prison in Shayang county.

Seven guards and 200 inmates also tested positive for the virus at Rencheng prison in eastern Shandong province, the provincial health commission confirmed.

Wu Lei, director of Shandong’s prison administration, said the new cases showed that ‘the implementation of our prevention and control measures has not been effective’.

Another 34 cases were found at Shilifeng prison in eastern Zhejiang province, leading to the ouster of its director and another official.

State newspaper People’s Daily said the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, the Chinese authority for political and legal affairs, had set up a special team to investigate the outbreak in the prison in Shandong.

Hubei announced earlier on Friday that a total of 411 new cases of the virus were confirmed in the province on Thursday, but later revised its figure up to 631 to include the prison numbers.

he spate of prison infections came as Iran confirmed 13 more cases, bringing its total to 18, and two new deaths.

With the coronavirus death toll now at four in the Middle Eastern country, it is the highest in any territory outside of mainland China.

In a tweet translated to English, Iran’s health minister Kianush Jahanpur said: ‘According to the latest laboratory reports, there are 13 other individuals.

Unfortunately, two people have lost their lives. Most of the residents still have a return history of Qom in recent days and weeks.’

Health ministry official Minou Mohrez told the IRNA news agency: ‘Based on existing reports, the spread of coronavirus started in Qom and with attention to people’s travels has now reached several cities in the country including Tehran, Babol, Arak, Isfahan, Rasht and other cities. It’s possible that it exists in all cities in Iran.’

Italy also reported three new cases of coronavirus this morning in the northern region of Lombardy.

A 38-year-old man caught the virus after having dinner with a friend who recently returned from China and passed it onto his wife and a close friend.

The man is reportedly fighting for his life in an intensive care unit at a hospital in Codogno, about 35 miles southeast of Milan. The other two patients are stable in hospital.

Police are tracing the couple’s steps over the past week, warning work colleagues and friends to self isolate.

Israel confirmed its first case of new coronavirus on Friday. The case was one of 13 citizens who flew home on an evacuation plane from Japan earlier this week after being quarantined on the stricken cruise ship Diamond Princess.

‘One of the passengers who returned home from the cruise ship in Japan tested positive in a checkup by the health ministry’s central laboratory,’ a ministry statement said, adding that the other dozen Israeli passengers who had flown home had all tested negative.

Fears of an outbreak in the Middle East were raised after Lebanon also confirmed its first coronavirus case today.

The case was a 45-year-old woman who had arrived from Iran and was being quarantined in a Beirut hospital. Two other suspected cases are being quarantined while they wait on test results.

South Korea said some 204 people are infected with the virus, quadruple the number it had two days earlier, as a crisis centred in China has begun strongly reverberating elsewhere.

The multiplying caseload in South Korea showed the ease with which the illness, called Covid-19, can spread.

Though initial infections were linked to China, new ones have not involved international travel.

Prime Minister Chung Se-kyun said the country had ‘entered an emergency phase’.

He added: ‘Our efforts until now had been focused on blocking the illness from entering the country, but we will now shift the focus on preventing the illness from spreading further in local communities.’

Daegu, a south-eastern city of 2.5million people that is the country’s fourth largest, emerged as the focus of government efforts to contain the disease.

Mr Chung promised support to ease a shortage in hospital beds, medical personnel and equipment.

Daegu mayor Kwon Young-jin has urged residents to stay inside, even wearing masks at home, to stem further infection. The first case in Daegu was reported on Tuesday, but by Friday the area had 153.

Nationwide, the numbers told of a ballooning problem. There were 20 new cases reported on Wednesday, 53 on Thursday and 100 on Friday.


More than 76,700 patients have been infected, including more than 1,000 outside of China

Over 2,200 people have now died from the killer coronavirus rapidly sweeping the world

The central government declared a ‘special management zone’ around Daegu on Friday, which did not restrict movement of residents or supersede local officials’ power but served as official recognition of the problem.

A total of 110 infections have been confirmed in Daegu and surrounding areas, including South Korea’s first fatality from Covid-19.

Most of those cases have been linked to a single house of worship, a branch of the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, where a woman in her sixties attended two services before testing positive for the virus.

About 1,000 others who attended services with the woman have been isolated in their homes for screening, and health authorities said they are trying to monitor thousands of other church members.

All 74 sites operated by the Shincheonji Church have been closed and worshippers have been told to instead watch services online.

Health and city officials say the woman eyed as a potential transmitter at the church had contact with some 1,160 people, both at the church and at a restaurant and a hospital where she was treated for injuries from a car accident.

That raised fears that South Korea – which before Wednesday had recorded just 31 cases of the virus – should brace for a further surge.

‘I hope South Korea will do everything to contain this outbreak at this early stage,’ said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organisation.

Usually bustling city centre streets of Daegu were nearly deserted on Friday as people wearing face masks lined up at clinics seeking testing.

Eight hundred schools in the area, due to start a new academic year on March 2, delayed their openings by a week.

Officials said on Thursday that only 394 new cases – the lowest figure in a month – had been reported from the day before.

Most of China remains paralysed over fears of contagion, with schools remaining closed and Beijing ordering those returning to the city to self-quarantine for 14 days.

New cases at two hospitals in the country’s capital have also emerged.

Health officials said 36 patients, medical workers and family members have been infected with the virus at Beijing’s Fuxing hospital, which has been partially sealed off since January 31.

An elderly woman receiving kidney treatment at Peking University People’s Hospital also tested positive after two infected relatives visited her earlier this month, the hospital said.

People who came into close contact with those infected at both hospitals are being monitored, while 12 women and 10 infants from the obstetrics ward have been ordered to leave Peking University People’s Hospital for their safety, authorities said.

Members of China’s Uighur minority living in exile have also warned of the risk of the coronavirus spreading in internment camps, where rights groups say more than one million people have been rounded up by authorities.

The virus spreads through droplets disseminated by sneezing or coughing, highlighting the risks for large groups of confined people, possibly without adequate access to soap and water.

It comes as the approximately 1,200 passengers and crew still on the coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship off Japan prepare to disembark.

The £400million vessel has been quarantined in Yokohama Bay, near Tokyo, since February 5 and more than 600 passengers on the gigantic vessel have caught the coronavirus.

The Diamond Princess was carrying more than 3,700 people in early February when 10 passengers were diagnosed with the Covid-19 strain of the disease.

A total of 634 passengers and crew have been infected, accounting for more than half of all the confirmed coronavirus cases outside of China.

Passengers who have tested negative for the coronavirus began disembarking from the Diamond Princess ship on Wednesday – when the official 14 day quarantine ended.

Two elderly Japanese passengers taken off the ship earlier this month became the first to die after contracting the virus onboard.


Lorry driver Alan Steele has accused Diamond Princess staff of exacerbating the spread of the virus by ignoring quarantine measures.

 He said: ‘The quarantine process was a joke. The quarantine people and the crew actually spread it. They exacerbated the problem.’

Several experts have also questioned the effectiveness of the quarantine on the Diamond Princess.

Kentaro Iwata, professor at the infectious diseases division of Japan’s Kobe University, described the situation on board as ‘completely inadequate in terms of infection control’.

Professor Iwata inspected the ship and  posted a video to YouTube highlighting blatant errors, including:

  • Passengers and crew members were moving freely between the green zone, which is supposedly infection-free, and the virus-hit red zone
  • People were eating together and sharing living quarters before test results showed whether they were infected or not
  • Too many people were not wearing protective clothing, including medical and cruise staff
  • There was no professional infection control specialist on board

Someone who is infected with the coronavirus can spread it with just a simple cough or a sneeze, scientists say.

Over 2,000 people with the virus are now confirmed to have died and more than 75,000 have been infected. But experts predict the true number of people with the disease could be as high as 350,000 in Wuhan alone, as they warn it may kill as many as two in 100 cases.  Here’s what we know so far:

What is the coronavirus?

A coronavirus is a type of virus which can cause illness in animals and people. Viruses break into cells inside their host and use them to reproduce itself and disrupt the body’s normal functions. Coronaviruses are named after the Latin word ‘corona’, which means crown, because they are encased by a spiked shell which resembles a royal crown.

The coronavirus from Wuhan is one which has never been seen before this outbreak. It has been named SARS-CoV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. The name stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2.

Experts say the bug, which has killed around one in 50 patients since the outbreak began in December, is a ‘sister’ of the SARS illness which hit China in 2002, so has been named after it.

The disease that the virus causes has been named COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019. The virus itself is called SARS-CoV-2.

Dr Helena Maier, from the Pirbright Institute, said: ‘Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that infect a wide range of different species including humans, cattle, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats and wild animals.

‘Until this new coronavirus was identified, there were only six different coronaviruses known to infect humans. Four of these cause a mild common cold-type illness, but since 2002 there has been the emergence of two new coronaviruses that can infect humans and result in more severe disease (Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronaviruses).

‘Coronaviruses are known to be able to occasionally jump from one species to another and that is what happened in the case of SARS, MERS and the new coronavirus. The animal origin of the new coronavirus is not yet known.’

The first human cases were publicly reported from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where approximately 11million people live, after medics first started publicly reporting infections on December 31.

By January 8, 59 suspected cases had been reported and seven people were in critical condition. Tests were developed for the new virus and recorded cases started to surge.

The first person died that week and, by January 16, two were dead and 41 cases were confirmed. The next day, scientists predicted that 1,700 people had become infected, possibly up to 7,000.

Just a week after that, there had been more than 800 confirmed cases and those same scientists estimated that some 4,000 – possibly 9,700 – were infected in Wuhan alone. By that point, 26 people had died. 

By January 27, more than 2,800 people were confirmed to have been infected, 81 had died, and estimates of the total number of cases ranged from 100,000 to 350,000 in Wuhan alone.

By January 29, the number of deaths had risen to 132 and cases were in excess of 6,000.  

By February 5, there were more than 24,000 cases and 492 deaths.

By February 11, this had risen to more than 43,000 cases and 1,000 deaths. 

A change in the way cases are confirmed on February 13 – doctors decided to start using lung scans as a formal diagnosis, as well as laboratory tests – caused a spike in the number of cases, to more than 60,000 and to 1,369 deaths. 

Where does the virus come from?

According to scientists, the virus has almost certainly come from bats. Coronaviruses in general tend to originate in animals – the similar SARS and MERS viruses are believed to have originated in civet cats and camels, respectively.

The first cases of COVID-19 came from people visiting or working in a live animal market in the city, which has since been closed down for investigation.

Although the market is officially a seafood market, other dead and living animals were being sold there, including wolf cubs, salamanders, snakes, peacocks, porcupines and camel meat.

A study by the Wuhan Institute of Virology, published in February 2020 in the scientific journal Nature, found that the genetic make-up virus samples found in patients in China is 96 per cent similar to a coronavirus they found in bats.

However, there were not many bats at the market so scientists say it was likely there was an animal which acted as a middle-man, contracting it from a bat before then transmitting it to a human. It has not yet been confirmed what type of animal this was.

Dr Michael Skinner, a virologist at Imperial College London, was not involved with the research but said: ‘The discovery definitely places the origin of nCoV in bats in China.

‘We still do not know whether another species served as an intermediate host to amplify the virus, and possibly even to bring it to the market, nor what species that host might have been.’

So far the fatalities are quite low. Why are health experts so worried about it? 

Experts say the international community is concerned about the virus because so little is known about it and it appears to be spreading quickly.

It is similar to SARS, which infected 8,000 people and killed nearly 800 in an outbreak in Asia in 2003, in that it is a type of coronavirus which infects humans’ lungs.

Another reason for concern is that nobody has any immunity to the virus because they’ve never encountered it before. This means it may be able to cause more damage than viruses we come across often, like the flu or common cold.

Speaking at a briefing in January, Oxford University professor, Dr Peter Horby, said: ‘Novel viruses can spread much faster through the population than viruses which circulate all the time because we have no immunity to them.

‘Most seasonal flu viruses have a case fatality rate of less than one in 1,000 people. Here we’re talking about a virus where we don’t understand fully the severity spectrum but it’s possible the case fatality rate could be as high as two per cent.’

If the death rate is truly two per cent, that means two out of every 100 patients who get it will die.

‘My feeling is it’s lower,’ Dr Horby added. ‘We’re probably missing this iceberg of milder cases. But that’s the current circumstance we’re in.

‘Two per cent case fatality rate is comparable to the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 so it is a significant concern globally.’

How does the virus spread?

The illness can spread between people just through coughs and sneezes, making it an extremely contagious infection. And it may also spread even before someone has symptoms.

It is believed to travel in the saliva and even through water in the eyes, therefore close contact, kissing, and sharing cutlery or utensils are all risky.

Originally, people were thought to be catching it from a live animal market in Wuhan city. But cases soon began to emerge in people who had never been there, which forced medics to realise it was spreading from person to person.

There is now evidence that it can spread third hand – to someone from a person who caught it from another person.

What does the virus do to you? What are the symptoms?

Once someone has caught the COVID-19 virus it may take between two and 14 days, or even longer, for them to show any symptoms – but they may still be contagious during this time.

If and when they do become ill, typical signs include a runny nose, a cough, sore throat and a fever (high temperature). The vast majority of patients – at least 97 per cent, based on available data – will recover from these without any issues or medical help.

In a small group of patients, who seem mainly to be the elderly or those with long-term illnesses, it can lead to pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection in which the insides of the lungs swell up and fill with fluid. It makes it increasingly difficult to breathe and, if left untreated, can be fatal and suffocate people. 

What have genetic tests revealed about the virus? 

Scientists in China have recorded the genetic sequences of around 19 strains of the virus and released them to experts working around the world.

This allows others to study them, develop tests and potentially look into treating the illness they cause.

Examinations have revealed the coronavirus did not change much – changing is known as mutating – much during the early stages of its spread.

However, the director-general of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Gao Fu, said the virus was mutating and adapting as it spread through people.

This means efforts to study the virus and to potentially control it may be made extra difficult because the virus might look different every time scientists analyse it.

More study may be able to reveal whether the virus first infected a small number of people then change and spread from them, or whether there were various versions of the virus coming from animals which have developed separately.

How dangerous is the virus?  

The virus has a death rate of around two per cent. This is a similar death rate to the Spanish Flu outbreak which, in 1918, went on to kill around 50million people.

However, experts say the true number of patients is likely considerably higher and therefore the death rate considerably lower. Imperial College London researchers estimate that there were 4,000 (up to 9,700) cases in Wuhan city alone up to January 18 – officially there were only 444 there to that date. If cases are in fact 100 times more common than the official figures, the virus may be far less dangerous than currently believed, but also far more widespread.

Experts say it is likely only the most seriously ill patients are seeking help and are therefore recorded – the vast majority will have only mild, cold-like symptoms. For those whose conditions do become more severe, there is a risk of developing pneumonia which can destroy the lungs and kill you.

Can the virus be cured?

The COVID-19 virus cannot currently be cured and it is proving difficult to contain.

Antibiotics do not work against viruses, so they are out of the question. Antiviral drugs can work, but the process of understanding a virus then developing and producing drugs to treat it would take years and huge amounts of money.

No vaccine exists for the coronavirus yet and it’s not likely one will be developed in time to be of any use in this outbreak, for similar reasons to the above.

The National Institutes of Health in the US, and Baylor University in Waco, Texas, say they are working on a vaccine based on what they know about coronaviruses in general, using information from the SARS outbreak. But this may take a year or more to develop, according to Pharmaceutical Technology.

Currently, governments and health authorities are working to contain the virus and to care for patients who are sick and stop them infecting other people.

People who catch the illness are being quarantined in hospitals, where their symptoms can be treated and they will be away from the uninfected public.

And airports around the world are putting in place screening measures such as having doctors on-site, taking people’s temperatures to check for fevers and using thermal screening to spot those who might be ill (infection causes a raised temperature).

However, it can take weeks for symptoms to appear, so there is only a small likelihood that patients will be spotted up in an airport.

Is this outbreak an epidemic or a pandemic?

The outbreak is an epidemic, which is when a disease takes hold of one community such as a country or region.

Although it has spread to dozens of countries, the outbreak is not yet classed as a pandemic, which is defined by the World Health Organization as the ‘worldwide spread of a new disease’.

The head of WHO’s global infectious hazard preparedness, Dr Sylvie Briand, said: ‘Currently we are not in a pandemic. We are at the phase where it is an epidemic with multiple foci, and we try to extinguish the transmission in each of these foci,’ the Guardian reported.

She said that most cases outside of Hubei had been ‘spillover’ from the epicentre, so the disease wasn’t actually spreading actively around the world.

Original Article:

Read More:This Is HUGE: UK Prisoner Collapses Of Suspected Coronavirus- Was Arrested In NOVEMBER In Thailand-Suggesting Incubation Period Of WELL OVER TWO MONTHS FOR CORONAVIRUS

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