China seeks to signal COVID-19 under control

President Xi Jinping has visited the city of Wuhan, the centre of the coronavirus outbreak, sending a message that Beijing has the situation under control.

His visit comes as China recorded its lowest number of infections, just 19 on Tuesday, all in Wuhan apart from two who had arrived from overseas.

China has seen 80,754 confirmed cases, 3,136 of whom have died.

The visit was Mr Xi’s first trip to the city since the outbreak began.

According to state media, Mr Xi arrived in Wuhan on Tuesday to inspect epidemic prevention and control work in the province.

Wuhan and its province, Hubei, have been locked down in order to prevent the spread of the disease. The president visited a community in the city currently in self-quarantine.

During his visit, Mr Xi declared that the spread of the disease had been “basically curbed” in Hubei province and Wuhan.

“Initial success has been made in stabilising the situation and turning the tide in Hubei and Wuhan,” he said.

Chinese state media quoted analysts as saying Mr Xi’s visit had sent a “strong signal to the entire country and the world that China is ascending out of the darkest moment amid the outbreak”.

The president also visited Huoshenshan hospital, a temporary facility that was completed in 10 days. Images from his visit show the president speaking to staff and patients via video link.

Shortly after his visit, state media confirmed that all 14 of the temporary hospitals in China had now been closed.

It is unclear how long Mr Xi will stay in the city.

Zhang Ming, a professor at Renmin University, told Reuters news agency: “He is there now to reap the harvest. His being there means the Communist Party of China (CCP) may declare victory against the virus soon.”

Images of Communist Party General Secretary Xi Jinping visiting Wuhan will be seen as more than just reassuring to the people of China that the coronavirus emergency is now pretty much under control.

It is also like a nationwide green light.

It is a way of sending out a signal that the return to “normality” should carry on apace. -BBC

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