China’s President warns public of a “grim” fight against coronavirus

China’s President warns public of a “grim” fight against coronavirus

Yesterday, Chinese President Xi Jinping, appeared in public after two weeks and declared that China’s fight against the coronavirus outbreak, which has exposed the country’s vulnerabilities, remained “grim”.

Additionally, he called on officials to have full confidence in them as they would triumph over the disease.

President Xi praised the Communist Party cadres for their bravery on the front line and paid tribute to doctors and nurses for their determination and expressed support to medical staff who had contracted the illness, in the course of their duty.

Addressing the impact of the outbreak on China’s economy, he expressed confidence that, “The impact is only in the short term, and we should not be scared by it”.

In a visit to a neighborhood at Chaoyang district in Beijing, President Xi and a handful of officials were all seen wearing masks. To a group of onlookers, the President explained that as it is a difficult time, he is unable to shake hands.

Meanwhile, the South China Morning Post reported that in his subsequent visit to a hospital in Beijing, he spoke via teleconference to frontline doctors and nurses serving in Wuhan.

President Xi was last seen in public about two weeks ago, when he met the World Health Organisation’s Director General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, saying that he was “personally directing” the battle against the outbreak from the very beginning.

The Chinese President’s leadership faces escalating wrath of the public over the death of Dr Li Wenliang, a Wuhan eye doctor who had initially alerted classmates about the virus’s danger last year, but was later accused by police of spreading rumors.

During Monday’s visit, President Xi called on state media to do a better job of publicising Beijing’s concern for the affected people and front line medics fighting the virus. He also called for immediate and expeditious response to questions raised by the public.

On the local front, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong informed Singaporeans that the country has stockpiled adequate supply of masks and personal protective equipment. The PM said that to combat the virus, the government has expanded and upgraded existing medical facilities and has in place more advanced research capabilities to study the virus.

On Saturday, in a televised message, the PM reminded the importance of observing personal hygiene, taking temperatures twice daily, and to avoid crowded places if one is sick.

PM Lee, who delivered this message in Mandarin and Malay, exhibited confidence regarding a medical outcome of the outbreak. “Most Singaporeans should remain well, and of those who get ill most should expect to recover,” he said.

PM Lee’s confidence in a scientific and medical approach to combat the virus can be traced to his earlier message a month ago during a visit to the National Centre for Infectious Diseases. There, while urging Singaporeans to practice good hand hygiene, he pointed out that wearing masks alone can lull the wearer into a false sense of security.

“The mask gives you a false sense of security because most of the time, you don’t get the virus from breathing it in,” he said. “You get it from contact, and you need to take the rest of the precautions – to wash your hands, to keep yourself clean, and to know you are unwell and to stay away from crowds.”

He remarked then, “If you are well, go about your life as normal.”

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