Image by Images via Pixabay/Victor Tangermann

A senior official in the Chinese government has instructed authorities in Wuhan, the city where the ongoing coronavirus outbreak originated, to round up the sick and quarantine them in isolated hospitals and shelters.

The vice premier leading the government's response to the 2019-nCoV epidemic, Sun Chunlan, has instructed Wuhan officials to go door to door, according to The New York Times. She told them to check residents' temperatures and investigate anyone who came in contact with known patients.

"Set up a 24-hour duty system," Sun said, according to the NYT. "During these wartime conditions, there must be no deserters, or they will be nailed to the pillar of historical shame forever."

It's an extreme, authoritarian move: rounding up and isolating thousands of residents in makeshift shelters that are being hastily assembled per the government's order.

Some of the shelters, which are being assembled in sports arenas and other large facilities, opened up on Thursday.

Social media posts are already showing grim, cramped situations, the NYT reports. Doctors and medical supplies are reportedly in short supply.

It's difficult to be optimistic that this roundup will improve conditions within the city, which has been under lockdown for weeks.