Leaked Government Documents Suggest Serious Virus Outbreaks at Hospitals in Northern China 

By Nicole Hao
Nicole Hao
Nicole Hao
Nicole Hao is a Washington-based reporter focused on China-related topics. Before joining the Epoch Media Group in July 2009, she worked as a global product manager for a railway business in Paris, France.
May 3, 2020Updated: May 5, 2020

After two hospitals in the northeastern city of Harbin experienced CCP virus cluster outbreaks, the nearby city of Mudanjiang also reported cluster outbreaks at the Kang’an Hospital, considered the city’s top hospital.

Both cities are located in Heilongjiang Province.

Internal documents that The Epoch Times recently obtained also revealed that the Heilongjiang government issued strict regulations to control and prevent outbreaks inside hospitals, noting that they should adopt measures similar to those in the central Chinese city of Wuhan, where the epidemic first broke out.

The Heilongjiang government also arranged for a Mudanjiang official to take over two hospitals in the city, indicating that the outbreak had become severe.

Cluster Outbreaks at Hospitals

The Epoch Times’ previous reporting showed that authorities in northern China have underreported infections. But even going by official statistics, it showed that the virus was spreading within multiple hospitals.

For several weeks, the Heilongjiang health commission has announced new patients and asymptomatic carriers in Mudanjiang and Harbin nearly every day—most of them having contracted the virus at hospitals.

Epoch Times Photo
Medical workers are looking for close contacts with patients that tested positive on nucleic acid tests in Suifenhe, China, on April 25, 2020. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)

In one example, a woman surnamed Gong visited the Mudanjiang Kang’an Hospital for her liver disease in late March. After the hospital became fully devoted to treating COVID-19 patients, she was transferred to another hospital.

But soon after, she developed COVID-19 symptoms. Her husband, Mr. Wang, who accompanied her on hospital visits, also began to develop symptoms.

In mid-April, both tested positive for COVID-19. Since then, more than ten people who were close contacts with Gong, including medical staff and patients at the second hospital where she was being treated, also tested positive.

Wuhan Mode

Mudanjiang currently has three designated COVID-19 hospitals. Hongqi Hospital is dedicated to treating patients in severe and critical condition; Kang’an Hospital is dedicated to treating patients in mild and medium condition; and the Suifenhe People’s Hospital treats asymptomatic carriers. Suifenhe also has a makeshift hospital.

Suifenhe is a county level city that is experiencing a second wave outbreak, and is under the administration of Mudanjiang.

Internal documents from the Heilongjiang government revealed more details about how hospitals were dealing with the outbreak.

According to memos of a recent conference with Heilongjiang health officials held in Harbin on April 15, officials said they would encourage Harbin residents to take nucleic acid tests to test for the virus, but they must pay for the tests themselves.

At another conference held on April 19, officials spoke about adopting similar measures as in Wuhan inside COVID19-designated hospitals of Mudanjiang, according to the meeting memos.

Epoch Times Photo
Memos from the ninth conference convened by Heilongjiang provincial officials about the virus. The document instructs hospitals to adopt measures similar to those in Wuhan, where the virus first broke out. (Provided to The Epoch Times by insider)

For example, hospitals would rearrange their layout to have three zones: “the red zone,” the area where a virus patient is being treated; “the clean zone,” an area not exposed to the virus; and “the buffer zone,” an area where medical staff can disinfect themselves and take off their protective suits.

All medical staff at designated hospitals in Mudanjiang cannot go back to their homes at this time, and can only stay at the hospital or a designated hotel. Furthermore, the Mudanjiang medical teams who were previously dispatched to Hubei Province in February and March to assist in treating the large number of virus patients will now lead treatment teams in the city.

Hubei Province, where Wuhan is capital, is the hardest-hit region in China.

Inside the city’s quarantine centers, officials requested that patients be monitored similar to patients in Hong Kong, meaning all must wear an electronic tracker wristband. The wristband is part of a geofence system; when the person walks outside the allowed perimeter, the system will alarm authorities.

Mudanjiang also decided to prolong the quarantine period for people returning to China from overseas—from 14 days to 35 days. The city will also temporarily stop flights and trains to and from Beijing.

Epoch Times Photo
Staff wearing hazmat suits are checking the temperature of a driver at a customs checkpoint on the border with Russia at Suifenhe, China, on May 1, 2020. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)

New Leader

A Mudanjiang internal government document dated April 17 explained that Communist Party committees would be set up inside the Hongqi Hospital and Kang’an Hospital.

Zhao Rongguo, the city’s deputy mayor, would be appointed to lead the two hospitals’ Party committees, with Liu Ying, director of the city’s health commission, as deputy leader.

In China, all state-run businesses have Party organizations installed in order to ensure that employees toe the Party line. Both aforementioned hospitals are state-run.

U.S.-based China affairs commentator Tang Jingyuan said that the move was likely an indicator that “the cluster outbreaks in the hospitals have spun out of control,” adding that hospitals adopting Wuhan measures also suggested that the outbreak was very severe.