Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, on Tuesday, the first time he has done so since the epidemic began and a sign that Beijing believes its control efforts are at a turning point, as new cases tumble.
His arrival in the city, where the virus is believed to have first taken hold late last year, comes after its spread in mainland China has sharply slowed in the past week and as attention has turned to preventing imported infections from overseas hot spots such as Iran, Italy and South Korea.
News of the visit gave a lift to Chinese stocks, with the blue-chip index climbing back into positive territory after falling as much as 1% in morning trade.
"It is obvious that Xi could not have visited Wuhan earlier because the risk of him contracting the virus there was initially too high," Zhang Ming, a professor at Renmin University in Beijing, told Reuters.
"He is there now to reap the harvest. His being there means the CCP (Communist Party of China) may declare victory against the virus soon," Zhang said.
China came in for criticism at home and globally over its early response to the outbreak, suppressing information and downplaying its risks, but its draconian efforts at control, including the lock-down of Wuhan and Hubei province where it is originated, have been effective at curbing the spread.
Hubei province, of which Wuhan is the capital, said on Tuesday it would implement a "health code" system to allow people in areas at a medium or low risk of contracting the coronavirus to start travelling.
During his trip to Wuhan, Xi will "visit and express regards to medical workers, military officers and soldiers, community workers, police officers, officials and volunteers who have been fighting the epidemic on the front line, as well as patients and residents during the inspection," state news agency Xinhua said.
New cases fall
Mainland China had 19 new coronavirus infections on Monday, the National Health Commission said on Tuesday, down from 40 a day earlier. It also marked the third straight day of no new locally transmitted coronavirus cases outside of Hubei.
Of the new cases, 17 were in Wuhan, while one was in Beijing and one other in Guangdong due to people arriving from abroad, according to the health authority.
That brings the total number of confirmed cases in mainland China so far to 80,754.
However, Chinese authorities have ramped up warnings about the risks from foreigners and Chinese nationals travelling to China from viral hot spots abroad such as Iran and Italy.
The one case in Beijing on Monday was due to a traveller from Britain, and the one in Guangdong was an imported case from Spain. As of Monday, there have been 69 imported cases.
Since the outbreak, 59,897 patients have been discharged from hospitals in China. Recently discharged patients need to go into quarantine foRead More – Source