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Whistleblowing doctor dies; top leader Xi reappears

li wenliang 1

SupChina illustration by Derek Zheng

This is the latest on the epidemic caused by the virus provisionally called 2019-nCoV by the World Health Organization, and Novel Coronavirus Pneumonia (NCP) by the Chinese health authorities:

42,820 people have been infected, 1,014 of them have died, and 3,957 patients have been declared cured (data correct at time of sending: check here for the latest stats). Almost all of the infections, and all but two of the fatalities, were reported in China.

The death of doctor Lǐ Wénliàng 李文亮 on Friday last week has crystallized public resentment toward Chinese authorities and their response to the outbreak. Li (pictured at right above) was one of the first doctors to warn about the new virus spreading in Wuhan, but he was censured and silenced by local police officers.

Top leader Xí Jìnpíng 习近平 finally went out among the people today, visiting an apartment compound and a hospital. He also spoke to frontline medical workers in Wuhan, by video conference (see state media report). The New York Times has context (porous paywall):

Mr. Xi has yet to visit Wuhan. That task fell to Premier Lǐ Kèqiáng 李克强, the country’s No. 2 official, and Vice Premier Sūn Chūnlán 孙春兰, who has led the response there in recent days. But at the hospital and later at the disease control office in Chaoyang, Mr. Xi greeted workers and officials there via video links.

China’s health care system is struggling to cope: “Overwhelmed and understaffed, hospitals have turned away many sick residents like the Zhangs, forcing them to go home and quarantine themselves in small apartments where they risk infecting other family members,” Amy Qin writes for the New York Times (porous paywall).

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