Xi’s early involvement in virus outbreak raises questions

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Pedestrians wear protective masks as they walk through a shopping district in Tokyo Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020. Japan’s government said Thursday a man treated for pneumonia after returning from China has tested positive for the new coronavirus identified as a possible cause of an outbreak in the Chinese city of Wuhan. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)

BEIJING (AP) – A recent speech by Chinese President Xi Jinping that has been published by state media indicates for the first time that he was leading the response to a new virus outbreak from early on in the crisis.

The publication of the Feb. 3 speech was an apparent attempt to demonstrate the Communist Party leadership acted decisively from the beginning.

It also opens Xi up to criticism over why the public was not alerted sooner.

China on Sunday reported a drop in new virus cases for the third straight day.

The National Health Commission says there were 2,009 new cases in mainland China, bringing the total to 68,500. The death toll topped 1,600.

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