Why Xi Jinping wore mask on Wuhan visit
The Chinese leader chaired a meeting of the Communist Party’s Central Committee on Wednesday claiming strict quarantine measures in the country were working.
“The results are hard-won progress made by all sides,” Xi said.
He met with doctors and was photographed having his body temperature taken with an infra-red thermometer.
He smiled as he waved to members of the public, and at one point even joked to the surrounding media crowd: “Let’s not shake hands.”
Experts have repeatedly said the basic mask does not make for effective protection against the virus, unlike the more expensive and increasingly scarce N95 masks.
Lijian Zhao, Deputy Director General of Information Department in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said Mr Xi wore the ordinary medical mask to signal to the Chinese people not to panic and to use their masks correctly.
“President Xi Jinping only wears an ordinary medical mask, which sends a signal that we should use masks correctly & not panic.
“This is in line with the rule that officials in Beijing are not allowed to use N95 masks as they are reserved for medical workers fighting at the front,” said Mr Zhao.
President Xi Jinping only wears an ordinary medical mask, which sends a signal that we should use masks correctly & not panic. This is in line with the rule that officials in Beijing are not allowed to use N95 masks as they are reserved for medical workers fighting at the front. pic.twitter.com/HWEniZnYNW
— Lijian Zhao èµµç«å (@zlj517) February 11, 2020
Surgical masks like the one Mr Xi wore do not provide respiratory protection, but are simple barrier protectors.
These do provide protection against droplets and large respiratory particles, and also stop you from touching your nose or mouth, which can be one way of spreading the conoravirus.
But more importantly, his message is a sign that the leader is attempting to be reassuring to the people, as trust in the Chinese Communist Party wanes.
‘TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE’
It doesn’t help that Mr Xi went nowhere near Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, for his mask stunt. The Beijing hospital he visited was over 1000 kilometres away from the locked down zone, where there has been over 1000 deaths.
China’s Hubei province reported an extra 4823 coronavirus infection cases and 116 new deaths, in the second day after the region at the centre of the outbreak changed its method for counting infections.
This was lower than the 14,840 cases that Hubei added when it first started counting patients with the new method.
The 242 deaths from Hubei were more than double the announcement of the previous day.
Hundreds of infections have been reported in more than two dozen other countries and territories, with three people dying from the virus outside mainland China — one in Hong Kong, one in the Philippines and one in Japan.
Experts said there are no signs the virus is nearing its peak.
“Based on the current trend in confirmed cases, this appears to be a clear indication that while the Chinese authorities are doing their best to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, the fairly drastic measures they have implemented to date would appear to have been too little, too late,” said Adam Kamradt-Scott, an infectious diseases expert at the University of Sydney.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus warned any apparent slowdown in the spread of the epidemic should be viewed with “extreme caution”.
“This outbreak could still go in any direction,” he told a briefing in Geneva earlier this week.
CHINA AXES OFFICIALS AS CRITICISM MOUNTS
Wuhan city leader Ma Guoqiang will be replaced by Wang Zhonglin, the party secretary of the city of Jinan.
“Hubei province and Wuhan must further strengthened management and control over exits from the areas … to put a stop of the spread,” state broadcaster CCTV said.
The move comes as Mr Xi called on the nation to get back to business.
According to the South China Morning Post, he said there had been “positive changes” with “positive results”, reiterating that all levels of local government and Communist Party committees must achieve China’s social and development goals this year.
It comes as analysts warn China’s failure to contain the coronavirus outbreak will lead to a “Chernobyl moment” for the country’s leadership, amid warnings that the world’s efforts to isolate confirmed cases “is not going to stop” its spread.
On Thursday, the Chinese president announced an extra 2600 military medical personnel would be sent to Wuhan to treat patients taking the total number of reinforcements to 4000.
For weeks Mr Xi kept a low profile during the outbreak, leading to speculation he was trying to create layers of bureaucracy on which to lay the blame.
But in China and abroad the demand for clear information is growing. Hong Kong pro-democracy activist and leader of opposition party Demosisto, Joshua Wong, said “by covering up the severity of pandemic with force & fear, #China has turned whole crisis into the Chernobyl disaster of the 21st century.
1/ By covering up the severity of pandemic with force & fear, #China has turned whole crisis into the Chernobyl disaster of the 21st century. China’s still clamping down on #coronavirus coverage as cases surge day by day. pic.twitter.com/5uscXWQsCr
— Joshua Wong é»ä¹é ð· (@joshuawongcf) February 7, 2020