Report: Xi Jinping to visit Wuhan for first time since outbreak

March 6 (UPI) — Chinese President Xi Jinping could finally be visiting Wuhan, the central Chinese city that is ground zero for the global coronavirus outbreak.

Hong Kong-based news service Mingpao reported Friday Xi could be traveling to Wuhan in the near future after shying away from the spotlight for weeks.

The Chinese leader has rarely appeared at public events despite claiming he is “in charge” of disease prevention and control during World Health Organization chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’s visit to Beijing on Jan. 28.

According to a Beijing source who spoke to Mingpao, Xi will be visiting the Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan, where China’s officially recognized first patient was admitted. Xi is expected to also visit Wuhan’s Huoshenshan Hospital, the 1,000-bed treatment center constructed in 10 days in response to the outbreak.

The Chinese president will be making a stop at government-run Wuhan Institute of Virology, which became the center of international attention following speculation in Chinese social media that the lab was the source of the virus, and that the outbreak began among its lab technicians as early as December.

More than 3,000 people have died in China in connection to the COVID-19 epidemic, and more than 100,000 people are confirmed to be infected worldwide.

Chinese state media has stayed away from covering stories or events that demonstrate rising anger in China in the wake of the outbreak.

On Friday, People’s Daily broke with convention by publishing a video showing protests in Wuhan. The video was later removed.

In the footage, a top Chinese official, Vice Premier Sun Chunlan, can be seen being heckled and jeered during a visit to Wuhan. Wuhan residents are seen yelling, “fake, fake, everything is fake,” as she inspects the work of a neighborhood committee in charge of quarantines, The Guardian reported.

Wuhan reported 126 more cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, according to the report.

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