Chinese health officials have fired an official at the Ministry of Agriculture over a quarantine policy that is seen as being lax.
The five-person outbreak committee of the China Rural Health Center — part of the Ministry of Agriculture — issued a public apology and sacked the head of the committee who it said had "conflated quality control, trade and quarantine issues" last month by quarantining a dairy farm when the government believed a deadly outbreak of the coronavirus was unrelated to the country's dairy industry.
According to the committee's statement released by the state-run Xinhua news agency, other officials were also fired for their handling of the quarantine of the dairy farm.
The Department of Agriculture said the suspected case of the coronavirus, a SARS-like virus, that had first been detected in the village of Minzhong in Jiangsu province had since been traced to a man who had traveled to San Francisco, according to the South China Morning Post.
Officials in Jiangsu ordered the village to temporarily close and put nearly 1,000 farmers on ice when the sample came up positive for the coronavirus.
China's Ministry of Agriculture said Tuesday that a ministry official who headed up the investigation of an egg outbreak in Shaanxi province that sickened more than 2,700 was also fired.
The director of the department's inspection division was dismissed "due to a serious dereliction of duty," Xinhua reported.
The viral coronavirus disease was identified in 2014, but it did not appear to have ever killed anyone in the world until it killed 57 people in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates in 2016.
Since then, at least 130 people have been infected in Saudi Arabia and 13 in the UAE, according to the World Health Organization.
Not all cases in the past year have been fatal, but all who have died have been from the Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The Saudi Arabian Health Ministry on Tuesday set up an internal working group to investigate the spreading of the coronavirus. The group comprises five senior health officials.