A mass roundup in central China has been expanded.
Top officials in Beijing on Thursday expanded their mass roundup of sick or possibly infected people beyond Wuhan, the city at the center of the outbreak, to include other cities in Hubei Province that have been hit hard by the crisis, according to the state-run CCTV broadcaster.
The move comes even amid reports that the mass quarantines in Wuhan have been marked by instances of chaos and disorganization, deepening anxiety and frustration in a city already on edge from a prolonged lockdown.
Last week, the government ordered officials in Wuhanto “round up everyone who should be rounded up,” as part of a “wartime” campaign to contain the outbreak.
In the rush to carry out the edict, officials are haphazardly rounding up sick patients, in some cases separating them from their families and placing them in the makeshift medical facilities, sometimes without providing the medicine or support they need.
Deng Chao, 30, has been in government-imposed quarantine in a Wuhan hotel room for nearly a week. In a telephone interview, he said that although doctors had told him he almost certainly had the coronavirus, he hadn’t yet received the official results from the test that he needed to be admitted to a hospital.
In the meantime, he was getting progressively sicker and finding it more difficult to breathe. He said that several security guards had been stationed at the entrance to his hotel to prevent patients from escaping and that there were no doctors or medicine available.
“This is really like a prison,” he said angrily.
“Send me to a hospital, please, I need treatment,“ he said, in between bouts of coughing. “There is no one to take care of us here.”
The number of cases in Hubei jumped again with the use of new diagnostic methods.
Chinese officials reported Friday that a surge in new infections was continuing, though not as markedly as the day before, when the number of people confirmed to have the virus in Hubei Province skyrocketed by 14,840 cases.
That set a new daily record, but it came after the authorities changed the diagnostic criteria for counting new cases.
The Coronavirus Outbreak
What do you need to know? Start here.
Updated Feb. 10, 2020
What is a Coronavirus? It is a novel virus named for the crown-like spikes that protrude from its surface. The coronavirus can infect both animals and people, and can cause a range of respiratory illnesses from the common cold to more dangerous conditions like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, or SARS.
How contagious is the virus? According to preliminary research, it seems moderately infectious, similar to SARS, and is possibly transmitted through the air. Scientists have estimated that each infected person could spread it to somewhere between 1.5 and 3.5 people without effective containment measures.
How worried should I be? While the virus is a serious public health concern, the risk to most people outside China remains very low, and seasonal flu is a more immediate threat.
Who is working to contain the virus? World Health Organization officials have praised China’s aggressive response to the virus by closing transportation, schools and markets. This week, a team of experts from the W.H.O. arrived in Beijing to offer assistance.
What if I’m traveling? The United States and Australia are temporarily denying entry to noncitizens who recently traveled to China and several airlines have canceled flights.
How do I keep myself and others safe? Washing your hands frequently is the most important thing you can do, along with staying at home when you’re sick.
On Friday, using the same counting method, Hubei officials disclosed about 4,800 new cases and 116 additional deaths.
Nationally, the virus has infected more than 60,000 people and killed more than 1,400. The jump in new cases puts extra pressure on the government to treat thousands of patients, many of whom are in mass quarantine centers or in isolation facilities.
The sudden uptick is a result of the government taking into account cases diagnosed in clinical settings, including with the use of CT scans, not just those confirmed with specialized testing kits.
Health experts said the change in reporting was meant to provide a more accurate view of the transmissibility of the virus. The new criteria is intended to give doctors broader discretion to diagnose patients, and more crucially, isolate patients to quickly treat them.