BEIJING: China has passed an extraordinary and historic test with its handling of the coronavirus, President Xi Jinping said on Tuesday at an awards ceremony for medical professionals.
President Xi handed out gold medals to four heroes from the medical field in front of hundreds of applauding delegates for their efforts in the fight against the COVID-19 epidemic.
“We have passed an extraordinary and historic test,” Xi said, praising the country for a heroic struggle against the disease. “We quickly achieved initial success in the people’s war against the coronavirus. We are leading the world in economic recovery and in the fight against Covid-19.”
The lavish ceremony in the Great Hall of the People began with a minute’s silence for those who lost their lives during the outbreak.
The four awardees included 83-year-old respiratory disease expert Zhong Nanshan – the country’s most famous medical expert who emerged as the face of China’s fight against the contagion.
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He was awarded China’s top national medal by President Xi. “We will join hands with the world’s medical workers to continue the fight in tracing the origins of the virus,” said Zhong.
Three others were given the honorary title of “The People’s Hero” – biochemical expert Chen Wei, the head of a hospital in Wuhan, and a 72-year-old expert in traditional Chinese medicine.
There was no mention however of whistleblower doctor Li Wenliang, who was among the first to raise the alarm about the outbreak and later died from the disease.
Before the ceremony, the state broadcaster showed a video montage of Wuhan at the peak of the outbreak including images of medical staff in hazmat suits and crowded hospitals.
According to official numbers, there have been 4,634 deaths in China from COVID-19. The government has largely contained the outbreak through a serious of strict lockdowns and travel restrictions.