China Expands Chaotic Dragnet in Coronavirus Crackdown

The “wartime” campaign to round up all who might be sick was extended to cities beyond the epicenter, even as it was marred by confusion that has isolated vulnerable patients and left some to die.

Comments: 30

  1. I can’t help wondering how and what we Americans would do were we to be subjected to such treatment.

  2. @Julian Not so long ago, during the great depression, were the poor much better treated in the USA? And during the Spanish flu outbreak?

  3. The treatment of people with suspected cases is appalling. At the same time, all of this was set up in a really short time frame and if the outbreak spread to Europe or North America I don’t think we’d be as organized or as able to take drastic measures as China.

  4. So the first thing we need to realize is that quarantines aren't for the benefit of those quarantined; they never have been. They are exclusively for the benefit of those outside the perimeter of a quarantine, be it a single home, town or city. The purpose is to prevent the spread of the disease to those outside the quarantine. It would be nice to think that China, or any other country, cares about the well being of those within the quarantine perimeter but that is not necessarily the case, especially if resources are tight. The quarantine that China has instituted is similar to that of the cruise ship docked in Japan which has a steadily increasing number of those infected. The quarantine of the cruise ship is set up to protect Japan as well as the home countries of those on the ship to some extent. That the conditions on board, similar to the conditions China has set up for those quarantined, is likely encouraging the spread of the virus among those "locked down" is pretty much irrelevant to them. It sounds cold and cruel but I suspect they figure that those who survive survive and those who don't don't but at all costs they don't want the infected spreading it outside the quarantine zone. When resources are stretched tight, this cold-hearted calculus of how they can obtain the most benefits for their larger population rules.

  5. Medical facilities and staff in Wuhan are apparently inadequate. Instead of letting the patients go free to further contaminate surrounding people causing greater pain and problems, Chinese government took drastic measure to contain them for the greater good. One can criticize or condemn the actions, but what will we do in such a chaotic situation? The deadly Coronavirus spreading so fast is difficult to image or stop. This disease is new and very unpredictable. With daily report and news from China, we see a life drama on how to prevent this disease in front of eyes. China serves as an example to remind us that we need to prepare for this kind of unpredictable bio-disease attack. It is very important.

  6. Many health care workers, doctors and nurses, have been infected with COVID-19. Most of them are recovering now. This group of recovered doctors and nurses is most valuable for the future because they are immune now. They can care for people in the hospitals ill with COVID-19 without the need to wear protective gear any longer because they are immune. This should make working for them substantially easier. Other recovered people may take over duties in the logistic services of the hospitals.

  7. @Bernd Interesting - do you have a link to a source that says those infected are now immune? I've searched for a trusted medical information source that makes that statement and have not found one.

  8. I figure many Americans reading this think this couldn’t happen here, actually it would be much worse. Just imagine all the people with no insurance and or ability to pay their deductible and co-pays being turned away by our for profit hospital system. Back out in society they infect a dozen or so people and in a couple of weeks you have a contagion.

  9. First, it could happen here. Just imagine all the hypochondriacs in the USA flooding waiting rooms, wanting to be reassured they don't have the Corona virus. Then imagine those who have a cold or seasonal flu - both treatable at home except for those with serious chronic conditions such as heart failure, asthma, emphysema adding to the numbers filling waiting rooms. Then imagine one person with Coronavirus - who could infect a number of people in the waiting rooms, including hypochondriacs, people with colds and seasonal flu who are otherwise healthy, those who have have serious chronic illnesses, and those family and friends who brought them to seek medical care. But don't imagine hospitals turning away those who are really ill - including Coronavirus patients: "In 1986, Congress passed the Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act, which contained the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act. The law requires hospitals to treat patients in need of emergency care regardless of their ability to pay, citizenship or even legal status. It applies to any hospital that takes Medicare funds, which is virtually every hospital in the country." Introduced by Sen. Pete Domenici, [R-NM] on 07/31/1986). and signed into law by President Reagan, EMTALA means no really ill patient will be turned away without treatment. But one really ill Coronavirus patient could infect hundreds of people. Contagion + crowds = outbreak / epidemic / pandemic.

  10. China has an enormous security apparatus and a tiny health care system. For example, there are 1-2 million internet censors active at any given time, while they have less than 100K primary care physicians covering 1.4 billion population. Additionally, no communist government has ever been considerate to its citizens. The role of the party in any socialist society is to "guide" and not to "serve". Such is the nature of this system. The "warlike" approach is likely the only one the government can apply, given the limitations and resources that are available. The disease is the "enemy" and any carrier of the virus is basically treated like a traitor or spy in a "war". The above approach can work initially, but will become problematic if too many are affected by the disease and a critical mass is reached, or too many members of the security apparatus succumb to it. Then China may break as a society and as a country.

  11. The Chinese are refusing help with something they can't handle. They would rather save face than save lives.

  12. Sadly, the government system is such in China that it will learn nothing from all of this misstep and tragedy. The next time, as this time, when some raises an alarm, he was be silenced, admonished, and even penalized just as was the late Dr. Liu. Sadly, the know-nothing in our White House has praised Mr. Xi for his handling of this whole mess.

  13. They - not just China but countries quarantining cruise ships - are creating sick people out of healthy people. They commingle the healthy with the sick, the strong with the weak, they are not only creating a public health crisis but also encouraging virus mutation

  14. One would think a totalitarian government would have a master plan in place to deal with contagious diseases. Here in NYC I'm a member of the medical reserve corps that was formed after 9/11. We are prepared for emergencies like this one. The last time we had an emergency here was after Hurricane Sandy. I was called up and proceeded to a makeshift shelter near me where a college gymnasium was converted with several beds. And meals that could readily be eaten were in Meals Ready to Eat hermetically sealed bags. This article reads like modern-day chaos. Why put people in medical isolation if there are no health care workers to attend to them? Where I volunteered I remember we had diabetic people in the shelter who needed insulin. Back then an entire nursing home in Coney Island was flooded out and their residents were removed to Brooklyn Technical High School. All their medicines were brought with them. Only volunteerism made a difference. Subways and buses were shut down for a while so no way the regular medical staff could get to the residents. During the Cultural Revolution it was every man for himself. So it might be expecting too much to get people in China to volunteer to help their fellow citizens in times of emergencies like the current coronavirus epidemic.

  15. It seems the spread of the virus has been exacerbated by the Chinese in 2 ways. First, no one seems to trust the government or do what they are asked. Second, the me-first mentality of the Chinese in refusing to help each other with ill relatives or neighbors seems to have caused a lot of misery and deaths.

  16. It seems indicative of what a totalitarian or communist state's approach might be to control a population; in this case a population of sick or potentially sick people. It seems there was no plan to treat these people initially, just to get them quarantined. I question the soundness of the approach to quarantining masses of people together to contain the virus from spreading based on suspicion of illness. It seems like quarantining them apart could have been more effective, given the correct adherence to medical standards of quarantine and disinfection. Perhaps China should have focused more on instituting an effective at-home quarantine, rather than just sending the sick home. I don't like this, or the forced quarantine on the cruise ship in Japan. It gives the virus more bodies to infect and how do we know that it won't mutate or jump ship?

  17. The giant warehouses shown can only isolate possible cases. The people within the inland lazareto are likely to infect each other, while those outside are shielded from them. This seems to be happening aboard the MV Diamond Princess in Yokohama.

  18. In spring 2002, during the SARS outbreak, I was the medical director in a suburban school district. We had a student who had traveled to “Toronto,” (she and her mother were at staying with family in a suburb outside of the city). She developed fever and a cough and was seen in a local hospital ER. The three criteria for “potential SARS” were: - travel to Toronto - cough - fever Thus, the hospital staff consulted the DOH, they consulted the CDC. This teen was designated a “potential SARS case.” What these ER staff and public health officials did not take into account: the young lady had a history of asthma, and she was having an asthma episode with a fever. The result: the situation became crazy. The girl was quarantined. Since she was on the track team, the school nurses had to take the temperatures of all the students in the girls track team twice daily. The media frenzy was intense. The local/regional media outlets tracked district administration staff, myself included, to a district event. We held a press conference to get out in front of the situation. No amount of information that we provided satisfied the media. —> A media outlet tracked down the “patient” & her family and outed her identity, violating her medical privacy rights. The community was alarmed. I couldn’t disclose the asthma dx., and that this made me confident it was NOT SARS. The whole thing became a three week circus. What’s going on in China does not surprise me at all. It would happen here.

  19. @Adrienne There is no reason why a person with asthma could not get SARS, or any other virus for that matter. Your confidence was misplaced.

  20. Actually, I was right on. The family had not been IN Toronto. The asthma history was Germaine and the key. The teen never had SARS. The public health officials cast a wide dragnet, and this family was caught in it.

  21. Please note that those who died before a CT scan or the scarce nucleic acid test will not be counted among the official tally of those who died from corona virus. Many died alone at home or in a quarantine location with no doctor, no medicine, and no test. "Official" numbers will not count them as a COVID-19 case, nor will they be counted as a COVID-19 fatality. As a result, the official numbers are vastly under-counting true deaths and true fatalities. In addition, confining all people together if infected or not will rapidly spread the disease to all persons in the room. Official Chinese numbers place the number of persons under observation at over 450,000. This number is a much more accurate reflection of the scale of the outbreak.

  22. The errors in diagnosing, even by a medical system which is doing its best, and then the ensuing quarantine problems, in my opinion show that a pandemic is being slowed but that it cannot be avoided.

  23. Many from China would be flying to South America and walking across our border if there hadn't been a crackdown but we need to be more vigilant. They have already caught some trying to bring dead birds through the airport. Very strange and there needs to be massive dietary changes in China. In the meantime this just reinforces the danger of those advocating for open borders.

  24. @Hellen the "dead birds" was pet food from Japan based on the photo I saw. I didn't a connection to Chinese diets.

  25. Fly to South America to walk into the U.S. Southern border? It is 2800 miles from the northernmost tip of South America (on the Colombia/Panama border) to the U.S. Southern border. If they are walking, they might get to the border by July (if they walk 20 miles a day everyday). What would be the purpose of that?

  26. This furor about Coronavirus is out of control. More people die of the flu in the U.S. every year. Can we please regain some perspective?

  27. @Sara But in the USA, the vast majority of people who become seriously ill or die of the flu are the very young, the elderly, and those who have chronic health problems including heart disease, emphysema, et al. Coronavirus is an entirely different disease from the seasonal flu data you are referencing. Coronavirus is highly contagious, kills a high percentage of infected patients, and could move from epidemic to pandemic with millions of deaths worldwide. You need to get some perspective!

  28. While those of us who understand the risks of Coronavirus worry about the contagion / epidemic / pandemic possibilities, it's also time to think about seasonal flu. As we know, seasonal flu is largely preventable by having an annual flu vaccine. To increase knowledge about the ease and importance of having an annual flu shot, the Atlanta-based CDC has loads of information. Especially good is their Flu Widget program - and if every reader takes the FLU IQ test and sends it to family and friends, hundreds of thousands of people could learn about the importance of having a flu shot every Fall. From CDC: "Influenza (flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness. Serious outcomes of flu infection can result in hospitalization or death. Some people, such as older people, young children, and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk of serious flu complications." How to avoid getting The Flu (seasonal flu)? Get a flu shot!! Want to know your Flu IQ? CDC's Flu widgets are interactive web tools that you can use to share influenza messages. ...including the Flu IQ more information. Use your search engine to find the Flu IQ widget.

  29. You should note that for many - especially seniors - the vaccine is ineffective.

  30. The Chinese people are behind the efforts of the government to the point that would be rare if not impossible in most Western countries. The original response of the Hubei Provincial and Wuhan city governments were dishonest and insufficient. This left thousands of sick people being sent home to infect others. Also up to 5 million Wuhan citizens were able to leave the city before the quarantine which was what caused the spread of the virus nationwide and worldwide. What the central government has done since then has been effective and the WHO director himself said was impressive. Of course this kind of centralized control would be impossible in the USA, or elsewhere. But 20000 doctors from around China have volunteered their time and gone to Wuhan to help with the effort. The epidermic is being controlled. Daily new cases outside of Hubei and Wuhan have dropped every day for over 10 days and the death rate has been controlled to around 2%. And the recovery rate at this point of over 10% with thousands of people being sent home from hospital cured. These are facts that are being ignored underreported here in the USA. In the entire city of Shanghai which is home to about 24 million there has been one death in January and about 300 confirmed cases. There is a strikingly transparent press conference including govt and medical personnel broadcast very morning. In a country of over four times the population of the USA this is beyond commendable.