Chinese Soldiers, Armed Police Infected With Coronavirus; Thousands Quarantined, Human Rights Group Says

February 13, 2020 Updated: February 13, 2020
FONT BFONT SText size

The novel coronavirus is spreading among members of the Chinese military and armed police, with thousands placed under quarantine to prevent further contagion, according to the Hong Kong-based Information Center for Human Rights and Democracy (ICHRD).

Ten soldiers within the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) and 15 armed police officers have tested positive for COVID-19 in Hubei Province, according to the ICHRD, which added that 1,500 soldiers and 1,000 armed police are under quarantine.

The organization, which monitors human rights abuses in China, often gets its information from high-level insiders within the Chinese regime.

Infection cases involving China’s armed police and the military might not be included in official figures. According to a Feb. 4 report by the ICHRD, the Chinese regime issued a secret document stating that military units don’t have to report their infection cases if they determine such information is a “military secret.”

The escalating coronavirus outbreak started in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province in central China. Wuhan health authorities say they suspect the COVID-19 strain originated from a local wet market where wild animals, such as porcupines and snakes, were sold, although scientists are still researching the virus’s origin and have questioned the officials’ narrative.

The infected soldiers and officers are being treated at three hospitals: a PLA hospital in Xianyang City, in Hubei Province; a hospital for the Chinese air force airborne corps, in Xiaogan City, also in Hubei; and a hospital for the PLA’s Central Theater Command in the city of Wuhan.

An unidentified staffer at the Xianyang hospital confirmed to the ICHRD that there were armed police infected with the virus being hospitalized there.

At the Xiaogan and Wuhan hospitals, about 20 relatives of China’s military personnel were also hospitalized, on suspicion of contracting the virus, the organization reported.

Quarantine measures were also put in place at other units within the PLA.

The organization also has learned that a Chinese soldier belonging to PLA’s Navy Submarine Force is infected with the virus and that 300 PLA Navy soldiers have been isolated. The submarine force is stationed at Sanya City, in the island province of Hainan.

Because of the outbreak, the submarine force put on hold a training program that was supposed to begin this month.

In Hainan, the local 301 PLA Hospital made preparations to test 3,000 soldiers for the virus, particularly those in the submarine force who had recently been at sea for training, according to the center.

The organization previously reported on individual infection cases in the armed police and the Chinese military.

On Jan. 30, the center reported that a member of a mobile armed police unit person living within camp housing in Hubei tested positive for the virus; 300 armed police from that unit were isolated. The camp is located in Panlong, located near Huangpi District in Wuhan.

Also, a military officer within an airborne unit located in Xiaogan City tested positive for the virus on Jan. 25, according to the center. A day later, 200 active-duty soldiers in Xiaogan were isolated at an unused military airplane hanger.

Follow Frank on Twitter: @HwaiDer