BEIJING (Bloomberg): A top Chinese official at the centre of the deadly coronavirus outbreak has been replaced, state media said, amid deepening concerns about early efforts to suppress information about the severity of the health crisis.
Jiang Chaoliang was removed from his post as Communist Party secretary for the central province of Hubei, the official Xinhua news agency said Thursday. He was replaced by Ying Yong, the mayor of Shanghai.
The shakeup -- following Beijing’s decision to dispatch top officials to the hardest hit province of Hubei -- represented the biggest political fallout so far from an outbreak that has killed more than 1,300 people and generated intense anger among Chinese citizens.
The move comes days after a nationwide outpouring of grief and fury over the death of Wuhan doctor Li Wenliang, who was accused by local police of spreading rumours after sounding one of the first warnings about the outbreak.
Indications that news of Li’s death from the disease now known as Covid-19 was also censored by Chinese authorities prompted further outrage on social media.
A dramatic revision upwards of the number of coronavirus cases in Hubei to almost 50,000 on Thursday fuelled new concerns about the province’s handling of a crisis that potentially represents the biggest challenge of President Xi Jinping’s tenure.
The central government last week sent two senior officials to help lead the response in Hubei and two top members of the provincial health commission have since been removed from their posts. - Bloomberg