A staff member wearing a protective mask and suit works at a supermarket in Wuhan, the epicentre of the novel coronavirus outbreak (AFP Photo/STR)

Source: AFP

Chinese President Xi Jinping donned a face mask and had his temperature checked Monday while visiting medical workers and patients affected by the deadly coronavirus that has killed more than 900 people.

The Chinese president, who has called the virus a “demon”, made a rare public appearance amid the outbreak to meet frontline medical staff at a hospital treating infected patients.

Calling the situation at the virus epicentre “still very grave”, Xi urged “more decisive measures” to contain the spread of the epidemic, said state broadcaster CCTV.

Xi has largely kept out of the public eye since the virus outbreak spiralled across the country from Hubei province to infect more than 40,000 people.

He appointed Premier Li Keqiang to lead a group tackling the outbreak, and it was Li who visited ground zero in Wuhan last month.

On Monday Xi put on a blue mask and white surgical gown to meet doctors at Beijing Ditan hospital, observe the treatment of patients and speak via video link to doctors in Wuhan, state media said.

He then visited a residential community in central Beijing to “investigate and guide” efforts to contain the epidemic, said CCTV.

Video footage showed Xi having his temperature taken with an infrared thermometer, then speaking with community workers and waving at smiling residents leaning out of their apartment windows.

The outbreak has prompted unprecedented action by the Chinese government, including locking down entire cities in Hubei as well as cutting transport links nationwide, closing tourist attractions and telling hundreds of millions of people to stay indoors.

The sweeping measures turned cities into ghost towns — but there were some signs of normality returning on Monday.

– ‘We’re worried’ –

Roads in Beijing and the financial hub of Shanghai had significantly more traffic, while the southern city of Guangzhou said it would start to resume normal public transport.

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