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500 Chinese Prisoners Infected With Coronavirus

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Authorities on Friday said the new coronavirus has infected about 500 people in China’s prisons, almost half outside the province at the centre of the epidemic.

According to official figures, China has had more than 75,400 cases of the coronavirus and 2,236 people have died of the disease known as COVID-19 most in Hubei and its capital Wuhan where the virus emerged in a wildlife market in December.

As international authorities tried to stop the virus from becoming a global pandemic, China’s Vice Science and Technology Minister, Xu Nanping, said its earliest vaccine would be submitted for clinical trials around late April.

The spike in cases in two jails outside Hubei in the northern province of Shandong and the eastern province of Zhejiang made up most of the 258 newly confirmed cases outside the epicentre province.

Authorities said officials deemed responsible for the outbreaks had been fired and the government had sent a team to investigate the bigger outbreak in Shandong, media reported.

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Data showed mainland China had 889 new confirmed cases of coronavirus infections as of February 20, up from 394 cases a day earlier.

The death toll rose by 118, with most in Wuhan, which remains under virtual lockdown.

(Reuters/NAN)