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China reports 22 new coronavirus deaths, Xi makes first visit to epicentre Wuhan

Beijing, Mar 11 : China has reported 22 new coronavirus deaths, taking the death toll to 3,158, health officials said on Wednesday, as Chinese President Xi Jinping made his first visit to the worst-hit Wuhan city and lauded the authorities and medical staff for "turning the tide" against the deadly epidemic, saying that the initial success has been made in stabilising the situation.

Twenty-four new confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus and 22 deaths have been reported on the Chinese mainland on Tuesday, China's National Health Commission (NHC) said on Wednesday.

All the 22 deaths were in Hubei Province and its capital Wuhan, the NHC said.

The overall confirmed cases on the mainland reached 80,778 by the end of Tuesday, including 3,158 people who died of the disease in the last three months, 16,145 patients undergoing treatment and 61,475 discharged after recovery, it said.

Meanwhile, 31 new suspected cases were reported taking the total number to 285, it said.

With COVID-19 gradually abating in the country, China has now turned its attention to growing number of imported cases as more foreigners and locals started arriving in Beijing and different cities to join duties.

Also on Tuesday, 10 imported cases of novel coronavirus infection were reported on the mainland. Among them, six were reported in Beijing, two in Shanghai, one in Shandong Province and one in Gansu Province.

By the end of Tuesday, 79 imported cases had been reported, the officials said.

Xi, 66, on Tuesday made his first visit to Wuhan, the epicentre of the virus, which along with the entire Hubei province with over 50 million people was kept under total lockdown since January 23, banning all movement of transportation.

The president visited a hospital treating severely ill COVID-19 patients and a residential community.

He visited patients, medics, community residents and workers, police officers, military personnel, officials and volunteers who have been fighting the novel coronavirus.

Wearing a protective mask and accompanied by a retinue of military and health officials, Xi visited a makeshift hospital and community residents and frontline workers in Wuhan.

Xi, who initially came under criticism for not acting in time to stem the virus when it emerged in December last year but later won praise for a decisive follow-up action, vowed to resolutely fight for a victory in the war against the virus, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Xi said the spread of coronavirus had been curbed in Hubei Province and its capital Wuhan where over 50 million people lived in total isolation since January 23 following a complete lockdown of the areas.

The initial success has been made in stabilising the situation and turning the tide in Hubei and Wuhan, Xi said.

Meeting medic representatives in the hospital, Xi said the spread of the virus has been basically curbed in Hubei and Wuhan, and attributed the achievement to efforts of the whole country and the whole society.

"But you are the biggest heroes," Xi told the medics.

This is the second visit by a top Chinese leader to Wuhan.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang visited Wuhan on January 26 when the COVID-19 virus spread at an alarming pace, prompting a lockdown of the city and the Central Hubei province with 50 million people.

Xi called for firm and meticulous prevention and control efforts to defend Hubei and Wuhan.

He said the situation in the province has shown positive changes with important progress, but the task of prevention and control remains arduous.

He stressed on taking epidemic prevention and control as a task of paramount importance.

Praising the people of Wuhan, Xi said the positive trend in epidemic control could not have been achieved without their sacrifice, devotion and perseverance.

With their concrete actions, the people of Wuhan have demonstrated the strength and spirit of China, as well as the Chinese people's love for their family and nation, which enables them to stick together through thick and thin, he said.

On behalf of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), he condoled the death of people and medical staff who sacrificed their lives fighting on the frontline.

Over 3,000 medical staff were reportedly infected with 10 fatalities.

The frontline medical workers have taken on the most arduous missions, Xi said, calling them "the most admirable people in the new era" who deserve the highest commendations.

Xi talked with patients in hospital through a video link, and expressed his wishes for their quick recovery.

"All prevention and control measures taken by the CPC Central Committee against the virus are to prevent more people from being infected and save more patients' lives," Xi said.

Coinciding with his visit, Chinese officials announced that 14 makeshift hospitals have been dismantled in Wuhan as cases have dramatically dropped.

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