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FACT CHECK: Is Adesina’s claim that Chinese President didn’t address citizens on COVID-19 pandemic correct?

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On Saturday, the Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Media and Publicity, Femi Adesina, stated that there are no records that Chinese President Xi Jinping addressed the citizens at the heat of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mr Adesina, who appeared on Arise Television, reacted to public outcry demanding President Muhammadu Buhari’s address from time to time.

The Presidential aide, however, stated that Mr Buhari fares better than some countries’ leaders including President Xi of China. He said that there are no records that the Chinese President addressed the citizens until after the country started winning the battle against the virus in Wuhan.

CLAIM – There is no record that the Chinese president spoke until the country got over it.

Full text of the statement made by Mr Adesina:

“There are Presidents all over the world who have not spoken since the pandemic broke out. During this pandemic, our president spoke three times in a month. We must respect whoever we have elected as a president.”

“The pandemic started as an epidemic in Wuhan China till they got over it. There is no record that the Chinese president spoke till the country got over it.”

” Within the space of one month the president made three broadcasts speeches to the country and every day, there are members of what is called a presidential task force on COVID-19, almost daily, they speak to the country.”

VERIFICATION

The Coronavirus pandemic, which has infected over six million people globally, broke out in Wuhan, China, late 2019. It was referred to as Wuhan pneumonia outbreak as of then owing to the pneumonia-related symptoms patients showed. This came in when the country entered its busiest travel period ahead of the Lunar New Year holidays.

According to New York Times, senior officials would almost certainly have been informed of the emerging crisis by the time national health authorities told the World Health Organization on Dec. 31, but neither Mr. Xi nor other officials in Beijing informed the public.

(https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/08/world/asia/xi-coronavirus-china.html)

The paper reported that Mr. Xi’s only appearances have been meeting foreign visitors in the Great Hall of the People or presiding over Communist Party meetings

As of January 19, the new virus has caused three deaths and nearly 200 people to fall sick with pneumonia. On January 20, Chinese President Xi said that it’s “extremely crucial” to take every possible measure to combat a new coronavirus that has infected 217 people in the country.

(https://thediplomat.com/2020/01/xi-jinping-warns-that-chinas-coronavirus-outbreak-must-be-taken-seriously/)

His remarks, cited by state broadcaster CCTV, came the same day that the country reported a sharp rise in the number of people infected by the strange disease.

However, there are accusations that the Chinese dictator spoke up late in order to get at the United States of America and other powerful countries of the world but Mr Xi had denied such.

Xi’s visit to Wuhan

On March 10, President Xi made his first visit to Wuhan, the epicentre of the pandemic, since the novel coronavirus broke out in 2019.

According to CNN, Mr Xi’s visit was a major show of confidence in China’s response to the pandemic.

(https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/10/asia/china-xi-jinping-wuhan-coronavirus-intl-hnk/index.html)

In fact, there were photos showing that the Chinese president saluted a patient over video conference, greeting a row of doctors outside the hospital.

Critics have however condemned Mr Xi’s inconsistency at the fore of managing the pandemic. Unlike the Chinese President, some leaders address their citizens on a daily or weekly basis.

Breakthrough

The reports of China’s breakthrough came after Wuhan city and its Hubei province registered no new cases for the third day in a row as of March 20.

(http://www.hubei.gov.cn/zhuanti/2020/gzxxgzbd/zxtb/202003/t20200324_2189256.shtml)

China, as of March 20, had a total of 81,008 cases and 3,255 deaths while a total of 71,740 patients had been declared cured and released from hospital. It should be noted that the province was placed on lockdown starting from January 23 till April 8, when the authorities announced that it had flattened the curve of the pandemic.

CONCLUSION: While it is true that President Muhammadu Buhari had addressed Nigerians more than Xi Jinping did in China, the claim that he did not speak until the country got over the virus in Wuhan is FALSE.

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