Beijing government praises frontline medical workers to tackle coronavirus patients

 Saturday, April 4, 2020 


Despite initial missteps in containing the COVID-19 outbreak, Beijing has sought to portray its subsequent response efforts against the epidemic as a “people’s war”, praising frontline medical workers as “angels in white”.


But the epidemic’s human toll has seen a national outpouring of grief and anger, particularly after the death of Wuhan doctor Li Wenliang, who was detained by local authorities after warning online in late December of a new viral infection he compared to Sars (severe acute respiratory syndrome).


A government investigation report released over a month later blamed Wuhan police for their handling of the case, and criticised “hostile forces” for seeking to smear the ruling Communist Party, including by “instigating public emotions” through Li’s case.


The Hubei provincial government in China said on Thursday it would declare 14 people who died fighting Covid-19 as “martyrs” – the highest honorary title from the Communist Party – including 12 frontline medical workers, one of whom was Li.


On Weibo, China’s Twitter-like social network, hundreds of thousands of users left posts on Li’s pages, including images of burning candles to show their grief and warnings not to forget.


The Chinese authorities have told people they must register for tomb-sweeping online or via phone because of the outbreak.


People who have not completed a 14-day quarantine are forbidden from coming outside to join in the annual tradition of paying respect to the dead.



In total 59,000 people in the capital Beijing have registered for Saturday, and 42,000 and 21,000 for Sunday and Monday.



This shows a sharp fall from last year, when cemeteries in Beijing had 433,000 visitors, according to figures from the municipal government.



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