China re­ports fall in new virus cases

Times-Herald (Vallejo) - - FRONT PAGE - By Yanan Wang

BEI­JING >> China re­ported Sun­day a drop in new virus cases for the third straight day, as it be­came ap­par­ent that the coun­try’s lead­er­ship was aware of the po­ten­tial grav­ity of the sit­u­a­tion well be­fore the alarm was sounded.

There are 2,009 new cases in main­land China, bring­ing its to­tal num­ber of con­firmed cases to 68,500, ac­cord­ing to the coun­try’s Na­tional Health Com­mis­sion.

The fa­tal­ity rate re­mained sta­ble with 142 new deaths. The death toll in main­land China from COVID-19, a dis­ease stem­ming from a new form of coro­n­avirus, now stands at 1,665.

The out­break be­gan in De­cem­ber in Wuhan, cap­i­tal of the cen­tral Chi­nese prov­ince of Hubei.

It has since spread to more than 24 coun­tries and prompted sweep­ing preven­tion mea­sures from the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment, in­clud­ing a lock­down of cities with a com­bined pop­u­la­tion of more than 60 mil­lion.

Many coun­tries have also placed travel re­stric­tions on re­cent vis­i­tors to China.

Af­ter Chi­nese Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping played a muted pub­lic role in the early days of the epi­demic, state me­dia pub­lished Satur­day evening a speech Xi de­liv­ered Feb. 3 in which he said he gave in­struc­tions on fight­ing the virus as early as Jan. 7.

The dis­clo­sure in­di­cates top lead­ers were aware of the out­break’s po­ten­tial sever­ity well be­fore such dan­gers were made known to the pub­lic. It was not un­til late Jan­uary that of­fi­cials said the virus can spread be­tween hu­mans and pub­lic alarm be­gan to rise.

In his speech, Xi also re­vealed that he or­dered a lock­down of the virus epi­cen­ter: “On Jan. 22, in light of the epi­demic’s rapid spread and the chal­lenges of preven­tion and con­trol, I made a clear re­quest that Hubei prov­ince im­ple­ment com­pre­hen­sive and strin­gent con­trols over the out­flow of peo­ple.”

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