A court in China’s northeastern port city of Dalian sentenced three former employees of a local cargo handling company to roughly four years in prison last week after convicting them of violating anti-coronavirus protocol at their place of work and subsequently causing a local outbreak of the Chinese coronavirus, the Global Times reported on Tuesday.
“The three defendants, two surnamed Fu and one surnamed Zhang … were sentenced to jail for the crime of violating the rules of prevention and treatment of infectious disease,” the Chinese state-run newspaper revealed on January 11. The court additionally fined the company that employed the defendants “800,000 yuan ($125,478)” for the offense.
“Zhang neglected his supervision over operating personnel who did not wear masks according to requirements and [ate] meals in contaminated protective garments,” the Global Times detailed.
Another defendant surnamed Fu allowed his subordinates to check into a Dalian hotel but “failed to inform the hotel operator of the company employees’ work content of handling imported cold-chain goods.”
Defendant Zhang also allegedly organized after-work social gatherings for his employees that allowed them to expose the greater Dalian community to their personal Chinese coronavirus infections.
A health worker carries out a COVID-19 coronavirus test on a resident at a makeshift testing centre in Dalian, in China’s northeast Liaoning province. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)
“After the employees quit their job, they were not quarantined, did not take nucleic acid tests or monitor their health conditions for the following 14 days according to epidemic prevention regulations, which led to several merchants and consumers at a shopping mall contracting the virus,” according to the Global Times.
China’s ruling Communist Party has repeatedly claimed that the Chinese coronavirus — which originated in central China’s Wuhan city in the fall or winter of 2019 and spread globally to cause an ongoing pandemic — has been “imported” back into China via the handling of foreign-origin frozen goods at cargo ports such as Dalian.
Beijing argues that this alleged method of transmission has devastated port communities by causing local outbreaks of the Chinese coronavirus over the past year.
The Communist Party continues to push this narrative despite evidence by global health authorities suggesting that the disease is not easily transmitted via surfaces.
“The principal mode by which people are infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is through exposure to respiratory droplets carrying infectious virus,” the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention writes on its website.
“It is possible for people to be infected through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects (fomites), but the risk is generally considered to be low,” according to the CDC.
“COVID-19,” also known as the Chinese coronavirus, is the name of the disease caused by a type of coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2.