Expert warns 'we're still in danger' as China's President visits coronavirus epicentre Wuhan

A Chinese expert in critical care has warned "we are still in danger" on the day President Xi Jinping visited Wuhan, the centre of the global coronavirus outbreak.

In what has been billed as a signal that China is winning the battle against the disease, President Jinping thanked health workers involved in the “people’s war”.

China recorded just 19 new cases of the virus on Tuesday, its lowest figure since January, after more than two months of the outbreak - during which more than 80,000 have been diagnosed, more than 3,000 have died and 58,000 have so far recovered.

But Dr Du Bin, who works at the ICU at Jinyintan Hospital in Wuhan, warned the country may well remain in danger so until the virus is defeated around the world.

Dr Bin, who was brought in from Beijing for his expertise in critical care in an emergency situation, said: "Just imagine a single fever clinic will probably have 1,000-2,000 patients every day.

“So that’s why, my impression at the time [is] the health care resources in Wuhan and probably in outer cities - probably in outer cities of Hubei province - cannot handle this.”

  • Video report by ITV News Asia Correspondent Debi Edward

He also spoke of low levels of oxygen saturation, saying it is “not uncommon” to see levels between 70% and 80% - when, he says, the normal level should be 96% or 98%.

And it’s not uncommon to see patients “who are seemingly well” become more ill because of the level of oxygen.

He said this has also been the case in Italy, according to colleagues over there.

It was the president's first visit to Wuhan since the city was put on lockdown. Credit: AP

After landing in Wuhan, President Jinping appeared to have spoken to staff in a hastily-built hospital over a video-link, rather than physically visiting them himself.

He spoke to patients and encouraged staff to “firm up confidence in defeating the epidemic".

He then visited Wuhan residents under quarantine at home.

Footage aired on state television show the President walking through the streets as residents wave from balconies.

  • Footage from inside a Wuhan hospital

ITV News Asia Correspondent Debi Edward reported families have been sharing pictures showing local committee officials or police officers at their homes during the president’s visit.

“Making sure nobody (unlike during the Vice Premiers recent visit) stepped out of line and shouted from their balconies while the President was in town,” she said.

Last month, a minister of the Chinese Embassy in the UK defended the country's reaction to the outbreak and said he is “sorry for the loss of life”.

Minister Ma Hui told ITV News that China has taken “very strict, all out comprehensive measures” to control the spread of coronavirus, which began in Wuhan at the end of last year.

He defended the country's efforts to control the disease, but said with the benefit of hindsight “there are always things that you can do better”.

“Because this a new virus, people are not fully prepared, people knew how contagious it was, but people didn't know how many people might get infected so there are always lessons to be learnt from epidemics like this,” Mr Ma said.

Coronavirus: Everything you need to know

Chinese President Xi Jinping, second from left in front row, is briefed about the Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan. Credit: AP