President Xi Jinping on Tuesday made his first visit to Wuhan, the epicenter of the deadly coronavirus outbreak in China.
The visit of Xi Jinping will also send a message to the world that the danger of coronavirus has been contained to a comfortable level in Wuhan, the central Chinese city that hit hardest by the new virus epidemic since the first cases of a then-unidentified respiratory illness emerged in December.
The disease’s spread in China cast scrutiny on Xi’s leadership, as he was conspicuously absent from the public eye during the early days of the crisis. Initial failures to react quickly were pegged on municipal and provincial-level officials who have since been replaced.
State media reported Xi arrived in the morning in Wuhan, which has been under lockdown along with several nearby cities since late January in a disease-containment measure. The city has the bulk of the country’s more than 80,000 confirmed cases and authorities sent thousands of medical workers and built several prefabricated isolation wards to deal with the mass of COVID-19 patients.
Xi will inspect the epidemic prevention and control work and visit medical workers, community volunteers, patients and others on the front lines, state media said. Amid questions about Xi’s involvement, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang had visited Wuhan in late January.
While China still has the majority of the world’s cases, its proportion is shrinking as the epidemic expands, especially in Europe and the Middle East. The battle to halt the coronavirus has brought sweeping new restrictions, with Italy expanding a travel ban to the entire country.