fficials in Hubei province have dramatically failed to inspire public confidence in their ability to manage the deadly virus outbreak that began in their province, holding a trainwreck of a press conference that is being met with rare, open mockery on Chinese social media.
On Sunday, the three top officials — including Hubei governor Wang Xiaodong and Wuhan mayor Zhou Xianwang — spoke for about an hour in a live-streamed presser, taking reporters’ questions and making blunders.
Most spectacularly, Governor Wang was forced to correct himself twice when quoting his province’s annual face mask output. First saying 10.8 billion masks before being given a paper and changing that to 1.8 billion, only for an advisor to rush over, causing him to declare the figure to be 1.8 MILLION masks.
— 冥王星 (@charon66192915) January 26, 2020
Confusingly enough, despite the governor’s awkward pair of corrections, a report from China’s official Xinhua news agency lists the number of masks produced by the province as 10.8 billion.
Meanwhile, netizens also noted that not one of the three officials was properly protecting himself from the virus. One had a mask on that did not cover his nose, one was wearing his mask upside down, and one had no mask at all.
— 三爪1 (@sanzhao41) January 26, 2020
The officials also managed to contradict each other at the presser on a critical issue. While Governor Wang said that medical supplies were in short supply in Hubei, Mayor Zhou declared that the shortage had been mitigated.
Evidently, the incompetence shown by the officials has granted Chinese net users the opportunity to criticize and ridicule government leaders without fear of censorship as negative assessments of the cadres have filled Weibo threads.
“After listening to the leader of Hubei talk, I can now see how all this could happen,” wrote one.
“If he can barely make it through a few sentences without error, how is he supposed to stop a virus outbreak?” wondered another.
“It looks like the Hubei leadership has been eating bat soup,” joked one more.
At the press conference, the officials also offered worrisome info with Mayor Zhou revealing that around five million people had left Wuhan to go home for Spring Festival prior to the city being locked down. These people, of course, traveled to areas across the country.
Speaking for the group, Governor Wang said that they blamed themselves for the outbreak, feeling very sorry and very guilty for having let down the Communist Party and the people of China.
The Wuhan virus has killed 80 people and infected 2,744, as of Friday morning. 1,423 of those infections and 76 of those deaths are from Hubei.