Coronavirus outbreak ‘largest public health crisis’ since founding of China: Xi Jinping
Chinese President Xi Jinping has called the ongoing coronavirus epidemic the “largest public health emergency” since the founding of the country under Communist rule in 1949.
The coronavirus (covid-19) outbreak has killed over 2,400 people, infected more than 77,000 and slowed down the world’s second largest economy in barely weeks since its severity was acknowledged and containment measures were implemented by Beijing in the third week of January.
Hundreds of millions in China are currently facing restrictions on their movement in some way or the other across the country – the epicentre Hubei province is sealed off and under a lockdown.
“This is a crisis for us and it is a big test,” he said at a meeting on Sunday.
“The Covid-19 outbreak is a major public health emergency that spreads fastest, causes the most extensive infection, and is the most difficult to contain in the country since the founding of the People’s Republic of China,” Xi was quoted as saying by the official news agency, Xinhua.
“The epidemic situation remains grim and complex and it is now a most crucial moment to curb the spread,” Xi said.
Xi gave the speech during, what the state media called, an “unprecedented” meeting of the ruling Communist Party of China’s (CPC) top leadership including all members of the powerful seven-member CPC politburo’s standing committee.
Thousands more provincial and local leaders were connected to the meeting via video conferencing.
Xi’s statement comes in the backdrop of mounting fears of the virulent virus spreading rapidly in countries geographically apart like South Korea, Italy and Iran, which recorded its eighth death from the pathogen.
Xi said it was necessary to learn from “obvious shortcomings exposed” during China’s response to the outbreak, which is said to have spread outwards from the Chinese central city of Wuhan, the capital of Hubei, the province worst hit by the epidemic.
Xi said that the epidemic will “inevitably deal a relatively big blow to China’s economic and social development”.
“In general, the fundamentals of China’s long-term sound economic growth remain unchanged,” Xi said.
China has seen a slow return to work since an extended – forced by the escalating outbreak from Hubei to all provinces and regions in China -- Chinese New Year (CNY) break, as officials urged the public to avoid gatherings and stay at home.
Those living in “low-risk areas” should return to regular life as soon as possible, Xi said, calling for new fiscal measures to help smaller businesses that have been hit hard by the outbreak.