Virus toll crosses 550, Xi demands tighter control


Chinese President Xi Jinping has demanded tighter measures to contain the coronavirus infection as the death toll rose to over 550 this week in the mainland.Speaking at the third meeting of the Commission for Overall Law-based Governance of the CPC Central Committee, President Xi said additional efforts needed from the legislative, the law enforcement, and the judiciary to tackle the outbreak.The Chinese leader, who heads the commission, called for improved laws and penalties, and scientific breakthroughs for the prevention and control of pneumonia pandemic.

The commission also adopted in the meeting the latest guidelines for law enforcement and the health department that at the frontline of the fight against coronavirus.Members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee Li Keqiang, Li Zhanshu and Wang Huning also attended the meeting.President Xi said the emergency responses must be strictly enforced with an improved risk assessment and control measures.

He ordered harsh punishments against people resisting or obstructing the government’s disease control measures. Those assaulting medical workers, selling fake drugs or rumor-mongering must face the law, the general secretary of the CPC Central Committee said.The Chinese leader also stressed on strict enforcement of law for emergency public health response as well as wildlife protection and animal quarantine.

Private donations made for the epidemic must be according to the law, Xi stressed, noting all the funds and goods received should be used in a timely manner for the virus prevention.He also stressed accurate release of epidemic information and public legal education related to the virus prevention and control.

Hubei has sealed off the city for nearly two week after it was designated as a high prone area for the disease. On January 6, the toll in mainland China rose 563, even as experts stepped up efforts for the treatment of patients.As of January 5, a total of 2,987 new confirmed cases were reported in China, mainly from the Heilongjiang and Guizhou provinces in the southwest.China has also put travel restrictions for air and rail in view of the pandemic. The virus was first detected in Wuhan in southwestern Hubei province.

Two deaths have also been reported from Hong Kong and the Philippines.