A spike in the number of coronavirus cases reported in China on Friday includes hundreds of prisoners who have been infected with the COVID-19 virus. As a result, prison and security officials, as well as others in Hubei, have been fired over failing to disclose information and for allowing the virus to spread.
Justice Ministry official He Ping said more than 500 cases of the novel coronavirus had been confirmed within the country’s prisons. A majority of the 271 cases involving prisoners in the Hubei Province occurred at the Wuhan Women’s Prison, He told reporters, according to Agence France-Presse. Another 200 prisoners tested positive for the virus in Shandong Province, and dozens more were confirmed in Shilifen prisoners in Zhejiang Province.
He said that the virus had been imported into prisons and that there were no deaths among infected prisoners, The South China Morning Post reported.
The latest tallies suggest over 76,000 people have been infected with COVID-19, with at least 2,250 deaths, including a 29-year-old doctor who had been working to treat coronavirus patients. Peng Yinjua, a respiratory doctor, died on Thursday.
“The overall situation is trending toward the better, and the outbreak is under control with zero increase in some provinces, Zeng Yixin, vice director of National Health Commission, said, according to The Associated Press. “In Hubei and Wuhan, however, newly reported deaths remain at a high level. We need to take that seriously.”
China’s senior Communist Party officials continued to urge caution and said that they’ve yet to see a turning point in the outbreak. Local authorities also reminded citizens that there would be legal consequences for failing to abide by the outbreak protocols.
“During the epidemic, we found some individuals who were airing their grievances and disappointment by spitting at members of the public, in lifts, on supermarket merchandise and even at medical staff,” Li Jingsheng, director of the Public Security Administration of the Ministry of Public Security, said, according to SCMP.com. “Others have refused to … wear any protective gear in public places, and have abused and beaten [workers carrying out control measures].”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.