Wuhan’s mayor offers to resign over ‘bad response’ to coronavirus crisisJanuary 27, 2020
Beijing: Wuhan's mayor offered to resign on Monday after admitting that the city's response to the coronavirus outbreak, which has now killed more than 80 people and infected some 2900, was too slow.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, left, speaks with people at a supermarket in Wuhan in central China’s Hubei province.Credit:AP
Zhou Xianwang, Wuhan's top government official, conceded in a candid interview with a state broadcaster that the initial management of the epidemic and the speed at which information was shared with the public was "not good enough".
"We locked down the city to cut the spread of virus, but it's likely we'll leave a bad reputation in history," Zhou told China Central Television, while wearing a blue surgical face mask.
"As long as it helps contain the spread of virus, I'm willing to resign as a form of apology," he added.
But Zhou also appeared to blame the state's information management systems for a lack of transparency, arguing his hands were tied by party rules.
"As a local government, after I got the information, I must ask for authorisation before I could disclose it. Many people didn't understand this at the time."
It remains unclear what will happen to Zhou. In the 2003 severe respiratory syndrome outbreak, Beijing's mayor made a pledge to resign and was promptly replaced.
Zhou's comments came as China's premier, Li Keqiang, visited Wuhan and promised to send 2500 more medical staff to help with the response.
The government also announced that it has extended the week-long national holiday by two days and will invest 300 million yuan ($64 million) for the construction of more hospitals in Wuhan, where the health system is overwhelmed. But the deadly virus has now spread far beyond its origins.
Every Chinese province, bar Tibet, has confirmed infections, while some 15 other countries, including the US, Australia and France, have discovered cases. Cambodia recorded its first on Monday while Canada confirmed its second and South Korea its fourth.
Wuhan is one of more than a dozen quarantined cities in China, and the UK has joined the US, France, Japan, South Korea, and Australia in confirming that it is working to make an "option available" to evacuate diplomats and citizens.
Among those trapped are 100 Australian university students, though the country's foreign minister has said that the absence of an Australian consular official in the region was making extraction challenging.
In Hong Kong officials have started denying entry to travellers who have visited Hubei province over the past two weeks.
The director-general of the World Health Organisation, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, arrived in Beijing yesterday ahead of a meeting with officials. The visit comes as experts are still scrambling to find out more about where the coronavirus originated.
One study in The Lancet, the medical journal, has raised questions about whether the virus originated in a wholesale market in Wuhan. Of the first 41 people confirmed to be infected, only 13 had links to the market, researchers found.
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