Hubei official removed for negligence on epidemic treatment capabilities Published: 2020/1/31 3:09:58

Tang Zhihong. Photo: Web

The health commission head for Huanggang, the second most affected coronavirus city in Hubei Province, the epicenter for the virus, was released Thursday due to a lack of knowledge on the city's disease treatment capabilities and resources. 

On Wednesday, a video went viral on Chinese social media which depicts health officials bumbling when asked by the central government supervision team how many patients and hospital beds the city had, triggering online uproar over the city officials' negligence amid the epidemic.

According to the latest data released by local authorities, there were 1,032 new coronavirus-related pneumonia cases in Hubei Province on Wednesday. At the end of the day, a total of 4,586 confirmed cases were reported in the province. 

Huanggang ranks second in the number of new and cumulative cases, just behind Wuhan.

Tang Zhihong, dean of the Huanggang health authority, made a phone call while being asked questions. Tang explained that they had special personnel in charge of combating the virus. 

Chen Mingxing, dean of the Huanggang disease control and prevention center, also said he was "not clear" when asked how many patients have been hospitalized, as revealed in the video.

Local government officials announced on Thursday that Tang had been removed from her post.  

Central government inspection authorities went to Huanggang on Wednesday to review treatment and prevention procedures for suspected coronavirus cases. The inspection team urged local officials to increase awareness and examination speed, Xinhua News Agency reported.

The Organization Department of the CPC Central Committee issued a notice to review the actions of local officials during the coronavirus outbreak and hold accountable those who had failed to implement measures and fulfill duties.

By the end of Tuesday, January 28, a total of 324 cases had been confirmed and 1,048 suspected cases had been reported in Huanggang.

"The situation keeps changing everyday…I know how many beds there are but they insisted on asking me how many patients," said Tang and excused herself during a CCTV interview.

Tang's lack of knowledge on the situation outraged Chinese netizens. The hashtag "Huanggang health official couldn't answer any of the questions" on Weibo has received over 130 million hits as of Thursday night.

"Huanggang is one of the most affected places by the novel coronavirus and local health officials are like this, so scary," said one Weibo user. 

 "These officials' attitude and capacity astonished me…How many officials like them are there in Hubei? They should be reported," read another comment on Weibo.  

Central inspection authorities held talks with city prevention and control officials, listened to and analyzed the difficulties and problems discovered in accelerating the virus inspection process.

The team called for greater efforts when screening suspected coronavirus -related pneumonia cases, improving test plans, optimizing the process, and increasing test procedure rates.  

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