China tightens crackdown on violence against medical workers

(Xinhua) Updated : 2020-02-24

BEIJING -- China has tightened its crackdown on violence against medical workers as part of its efforts to fight the novel coronavirus outbreak, the Ministry of Public Security (MPS) said on Feb 21.

As of Thursday, Chinese police had investigated 277 people in 232 cases for assaulting medical staff or disrupting their work, Li Jingsheng, head of the ministry's security administration bureau, said at a press conference.

"At present, the overall medical treatment across the country is stable and in order," said Li, adding that some 27,000 doctor-patient disputes had been resolved and more than 15,000 potential public security hazards had been rectified by Thursday.

Noting that it is a vital task for the public security organs to protect the safety of medical personnel, maintain order at hospitals and ensure epidemic prevention and control, Li said a slew of steps have been taken to curb violence against medics.

The MPS has ordered local departments to beef up police presence around medical institutions by deploying 120,000 police officers to guard nationwide designated hospitals for virus-infected patients 24 hours a day.

The MPS joined the National Health Commission, the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate in releasing a circular specifying several illegal acts against medics including slander, assault and battery, murder and behaviors that may expose medical workers to infection, that would result in harsh punishment and even the death penalty.

Li also vowed to severely punish acts of deliberately spreading the novel coronavirus, such as confirmed or suspected virus-infected patients intentionally going to a public place to spread the virus, making close contact with others while concealing their infection, or refusing examination, isolation and treatment, thus leading to serious consequences.