China’s central government has ordered Wuhan to round up all suspected coronavirus patients as well as their close contacts in mass quarantine camps.
The country’s Vice Premier Sun Chunlan called on a ‘people’s war’ against the fast-spreading epidemic, which has killed at least 638 people and infected more than 31,520 globally.
She demanded Communist officials of all levels take active lead in this ‘wartime condition’, or face being ‘nailed onto the pillar of historical shame forever’.
The city has around 14 million residents, but it remains unknown how many people would be quarantined or where they would be kept.
Wuhan officials are now carrying out door-to-door health checks to identify potential carriers who would need to be isolated.
Ms Sun demanded four types of people in Wuhan be put into mandatory isolation in quarantine stations: confirmed cases, suspected cases, people who have close contact with the former two, and those who have fever.
Ms Sun called on a ‘people’s war’ against the coronavirus epidemic in a meeting on Tuesday.
Yesterday, she instructed all levels of officials to treat the fight of the outbreak as the ‘most important and urgent mission’ in another briefing.
‘There must be a 24-hour shift pattern. During the wartime condition, there must be no deserters, otherwise they will be forever nailed onto the pillar of historical shame’, Ms Sun said, according to state broadcaster CCTV.
The Communist leader instructed the Wuhan government to send workers to every household to take the temperature of all family members in order to block the source of the outbreak.
Ms Sun’s comments came as the Communist Party was blasted by furious Chinese citizens who accused it of covering up the death of a whistle-blower of the deadly disease.
Dr Li Wenliang, a medic in Wuhan, died of the coronavirus after catching the virus from a patient. He had been punished by police for sending warnings of ‘SARS at a Wuhan market’ on social media.
State media Global Times reported about his death last night before quickly removing the post without an explanation.
The hospital which was treating Dr Li was quick to deny the reports, and finally pronounced his death in the wee hours today.
Many Chinese web users believed the government was hiding Dr Li’s passing from the public out of fear of an uproar. They said officials only dared to reveal the truth ‘after everyone had gone to bed’.
The coronavirus epidemic has so far claimed more than 630 lives and infected more than 31,520 people in 28 countries and territories around the world – but 99 per cent of infections have been in China.
The outbreak has prompted the World Health Organization to declare a global health emergency, several governments to impose travel restrictions, and airlines to suspend flights to and from China.
China’s National Health Commission reported 73 new deaths and 3,143 confirmed cases overnight.