Beijing Enacts Quarantine Measures in Military Regions

Beijing Enacts Quarantine Measures in Military Regions
Chinese women wear a mask as they wait to cross a street in Beijing on Feb. 18, 2020. (Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)
Frank Fang

Beijing has put in place quarantine measures for its military personnel, in a sign that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak may be growing more severe in China.

On Feb. 18, China’s military, the People’s Liberation Army, reported on its official online video platform that 12 military officers, including a quartermaster named Li Yalei, have been placed under “isolation management.” They are responsible for providing safe food supplies and safe meals amid the outbreak for an air force unit stationed at China’s Central Theater Command.

Among these officers’ tasks is ensuring the safety of food they order.

For the delivery of non-staple food, suppliers are now being asked to put the food outside the entrance of the air force’s barracks in order to protect against potential virus contamination. Only after sitting outside for two full hours will the food be taken inside for meal preparation.

All utensils, cookware, and the cafeteria inside the barracks are to be disinfected by local health authorities before they can be used.

Central Theater Command, one of five theater commands in China, oversees two cities, Beijing and Tianjin, and the provinces of Shaanxi, Shanxi, Henan, Hebei, and Hubei. The latter is where the city of Wuhan—where the virus first broke out—is located.

Health authorities in Wuhan have said they suspect the 2019-nCoV virus strain originated from a local wet market where wild animals were sold.

One day ago, on Feb. 17, China’s state-run media Xinhua and People’s Net reprinted a story by state-run media PLA Daily, about safety measures against the virus undertaken by the East Sea Fleet, which is under the command of the Eastern Theater Command.

Among the safety measures are putting returning sailors in isolation, and holding fewer meetings, while relying on telephone and teleconference for communication.

The article named Yu Songqiu, head of an unnamed Chinese frigate, as a person currently being observed while in isolation. Yu told PLA Daily that he returned to his military camp on Jan. 29, and had been in isolation since. It is unclear whether he will undergo diagnostic testing for the virus.

In 2018,, PLA’s official news website, reported that Yu was the head of one of China’s Type 054 A frigates, named Changzhou.

While China’s state-run media have not reported any confirmed cases of COVID-19 among its military personnel, the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy (ICHRD) has reported several confirmed cases among Chinese soldiers.

Last week, ICHRD reported that 10 PLA soldiers and 15 armed police officers have tested positive for the virus in Hubei.

The organization also reported that a Chinese soldier belonging to PLA’s Navy Submarine Force, located in the island province of Hainan, is infected with the virus.

More recently, on Feb. 13, ICHRD reported that a soldier on China’s aircraft carrier Shandong was infected with the virus in Sanya City in Hainan. As a result, about 100 soldiers who were stationed at that aircraft carrier are now being quarantined.

ICHRD added that it obtained confirmation of the infection case from an unnamed source in Jiyang District, Sanya.

Frank Fang is a Taiwan-based journalist. He covers U.S., China, and Taiwan news. He holds a master's degree in materials science from Tsinghua University in Taiwan.
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