Wuhan mayor admits lack of transparency in informing public about the outbreak; partially blames the Beijing government

Photo Credit: CCTV

The mayor of Wuhan, the city that’s at the centre of the coronavirus outbreak, admits mistakes from his part as he withheld information about the outbreak and failed to release information about it during the preliminary stage of the virus outbreak.

While wearing a mask for protection, Zhou Xianwang told in an interview with the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV that, “We haven’t disclosed information in a timely manner and also did not use effective information to improve our work”.

Mr Zhou’s declaration came on Monday (27 January) after he announced a day earlier that around five million Wuhan residents had left the city before it went on a complete lockdown on Thursday.

After the lock down was imposed, all trains and flights were cancelled, public transport suspended and even most private cars were banned from the roads.

In fact, this sparked anger among the people of Wuhan as they stated that they were not informed earlier about the potential risks of the outbreak or even be informed what precautions should be taken.

In exchange for the forgiveness from the public, Mr Zhou said that he and the Communist Party Secretary of Wuhan were willing to tender in their resignation.

However, Mr Zhao revealed to CCTV that he did not have the authority to disclose such information without getting authorisation first from the central government in Beijing, which appears to look like a partial shift in blame to the Beijing government.

“As a local government official, after I have the information, I have to get approval before I can make it public,” Zhou said.

He went on to say that after China’s State Council conducted a meeting to acknowledge that the coronavirus as a Class B infectious disease, his administration promptly made decisive moves, which includes putting the city in a lockdown.

Mr Zhou then explained that how his role in the crisis had been misunderstood, making him become the person to be blamed for in regards to the handling of the crisis.

“Maybe we’ll go down in history with a bad reputation for locking down the city to keep the virus inside,” Mr Zhou said.

He added, “But as long as it helps to contain the spread of the virus, Wuhan Party Secretary Ma Guoqiang and I are willing to take whatever responsibility, including resignation.”

As of Tuesday (28 January), 106 people have lost their lives to the virus and the number of confirmed infections doubled to over 4,500.

The deadly virus, which experts believe emanated from a wild animal market in the city of Wuhan last month, has triggered a desperate Chinese containment effort after spreading nationwide and to more than a dozen other countries.

The virus can be transmitted between people, although scientists have yet to determine how contagious it is and exactly the way it is spread.

In bids to stop huge numbers of people coming into close contact with each other, China has imposed tight transport restrictions in other parts of the country.

It has extended the Lunar New Year national holiday into next week.

The education ministry on Tuesday also said the spring semester for schools and universities nationwide would be postponed, without giving a resumption date.

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