The official People’s Daily newspaper said the 80-room hotel was being used by by the city government for observation of people who had contact with virus patients.
The hotel opened in June 2018, with rooms on the fourth to seventh floors of the building, the newspaper Beijing Youth Daily said.
An unidentified hotel employee cited by the Beijing Youth Daily said the owner carried out “foundation-related construction” before the disaster. It gave no details.
“I was at a gas station and heard a loud noise. I looked up and the whole building collapsed. Dust was everywhere, and glass fragments were flying around,” a witness said in a video posted on the Miaopai streaming app.
“I was so terrified that my hands and legs were shivering.”
A woman named only by her surname, Chen, told the Beijing News website that relatives including her sister had been under quarantine at the hotel as prescribed by local regulations after returning from Hubei province, the centre of the coronavirus outbreak.
She said they had arrived on February 25 and had been scheduled to leave soon after completing their 14 days of quarantine.
“I can’t contact them. They’re not answering their phones,” she said.
“I’m under quarantine too [at another hotel] and I’m very worried, I don’t know what to do. They were healthy, they took their temperatures every day, and the tests showed that everything was normal.”
Beijing News’ video stream was viewed by more than 2 million Weibo users on Saturday evening, and the hotel’s collapse was the top trending topic on the Weibo site, China’s close equivalent to Twitter.
Some users demanded an investigation into how the hotel could have collapsed.
The municipality said 36 emergency rescue vehicles such as cranes and excavators, 67 firefighting vehicles, 15 ambulances, and more than 700 firefighters, medical and other rescue workers were at the scene as the operation stretched into the night.
Quanzhou is a port city on the Taiwan Strait in the province of Fujian with a population of more than 8 million.
The Fujian provincial government said that as of Friday, the province had 296 cases of coronavirus and 10,819 people had been placed under observation after being classified as suspected close contacts.
China, where the virus first emerged in December, has confirmed more than 80,000 cases, by far the most in the world.
It reported 44 new cases over the last 24 hours on Sunday morning, the lowest level since it began publishing nationwide figures on Jan 20. Another 27 deaths were reported, bringing the total to 3097.
Most of the cases have been in Wuhan, an inland city about 670 kilometres north-west of Quanzhou.