The mayor of the Chinese city of Wuhan, ground zero of the rapidly spreading coronavirus, said Monday that his administration’s handling of the crisis was “not good enough” and offered to resign, according to a report.
“If people want to pursue accountability [about the lockdown] and the public has a strong opinion, we are willing to step down” along with Wuhan Communist Party chief Ma Guoqiang, Mayor Zhou Xianwang told state broadcaster CCTV, according to the South China Morning Post.
Zhou defended his decision to lock down the central city of 11 million people as an effective way to curb the spread of the deadly disease. Which has claimed at least 81 lives in China and infected nearly 3,000 other people.
But he also admitted that the city government’s disclosure of information about the disease had been “unsatisfactory.”
“Our names will live in infamy, but as long as it is conducive to the control of the disease and to the people’s lives and safety, Comrade Ma Guoqiang and I will bear any responsibility,” Zhou said, according to The New York Times.
Meanwhile, Premier Li Keqiang visited Wuhan as the central government ramped up its response while city authorities faced growing accusations from the public of mismanagement and a failure to respond in a timely manner.
The total number of confirmed cases in China increased some 30 percent from the previous day, to 2,744, with about half in the province of Hubei, home to nearly 60 million people and the capital of which is Wuhan, Reuters reported.
People from Hubei have come under scrutiny, with many facing suspicion from authorities about their recent travels.
The number of deaths in Hubei climbed to 76 from 56, health officials said, with five deaths elsewhere in China.
“Hubei people are getting discriminated against,” a Wuhan resident said on the Weibo social media platform.
While a small number of cases linked to people who traveled from Wuhan have been confirmed in more than 10 countries, including the US, Thailand, France and Japan, no deaths have been reported elsewhere.
Li, the most senior leader to visit Wuhan since the outbreak began, was clad in a blue protective suit and mask as he inspected efforts to contain the epidemic.
He was shown on state TV leading medical workers in chants of “Wuhan jiayou!” – an exhortation that translates literally as “add oil!”
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