“This could be a massive disaster”: What happens if the coronavirus hits China’s internment camps?

The Wuhan virus could escalate the suffering of Muslims in the camps, where conditions have created a perfect breeding ground for infectious disease.

Date: Jan 28, 2020
By: Sigal Samuel 

A woman in a shopping district in Hong Kong wears a breathing mask as a preventative measure following a coronavirus outbreak.

 Dale de la Rey/AFP via Getty Images

Perhaps the only thing worse than being stuck in an internment camp is being stuck in an internment camp when there’s a deadly virus on the move.

As the Wuhan coronavirus spreads across China, infections have been confirmed in the northwestern province of Xinjiang, where an estimated 1 million Muslims are held in camps for forced indoctrination.

For now, there’s no evidence that the virus has hit any of the camps. But experts warn that if it does, it could drastically compound the suffering there, potentially leading to thousands of deaths.

Former inmates — most of whom are Uighurs, a largely Muslim ethnic minority — have reported that the camps are overcrowded and unsanitary. If the virus gains a toehold there, it could spread from person to person all too easily.

“Cramped conditions, poor hygiene, cold, stressed immune systems — this could be a massive disaster,” wrote James Millward, a professor of Chinese history at Georgetown University who monitors the Xinjiang camps closely, on Twitter.    [FULL  STORY]