The Chronicle

Beijing, China – Chinese President Xi Jinping has made his first visit to Wuhan since the outbreak of the coronavirus in what could be seen as a signal from the government that the health crisis is coming under control.

Xi, who has been largely unseen throughout the epidemic, made his first appearance yesterday in the region that had been under lockdown for weeks.

State news agency Xinhua said the president wanted to “visit and express regards to” those affected by the infection, including medical workers and patients.

National television broadcaster CCTV said Xi began his visit at Huoshenshan hospital, one of the makeshift medical facilities treating patients in severe and critical conditions.

Images published in state-owned media outlets showed Xi greeting the healthcare workers and meeting with health officials, as well as waving to a coronavirus patient through video conferencing.

More than 80 000 people have been infected in the country. 

More than 3 100 have died.

Xi’s visit came at a time when reported cases of coronavirus infection, known as COVID-19, are steadily declining in China.

In recent days, only a few dozen confirmed cases were reported, compared with thousands during the peak of the epidemic.

Many provinces in China have also reported zero new cases for a number of days.

Additionally, the government also ordered the closing down of the makeshift hospitals in Wuhan due to the decline in the number of reported cases.

According to reports, less than 20 000 of the confirmed cases are still under treatment, with almost 60 000 having reportedly recovered.

Xi’s visit to Wuhan came after a particularly tumultuous day for global financial markets.

The world’s second-largest economy was severely affected by the outbreak, sending shockwaves worldwide. On Monday, stock indexes in the US witnessed the steepest single-day fall since the 2008 financial crisis.

“Xi Jinping’s visit certainly signals some degree of confidence, which comes as investors around the world need a boost in their confidence,” Victor Shih, an associate professor who studies Chinese economy and politics at the University of California, told Al Jazeera.

Many small businesses in China are running out of cash and now face the risk of dissolving, while workers have been unable to return to work and students had to resort to online education. – Al Jazeera.