HomeCoronavirus live updates: U.S. coronavirus death toll reaches 17 as Florida reports first deaths outside West CoastTechCoronavirus live updates: U.S. coronavirus death toll reaches 17 as Florida reports first deaths outside West Coast

Coronavirus live updates: U.S. coronavirus death toll reaches 17 as Florida reports first deaths outside West Coast

China is turning the tide in its coronavirus battle.

National health authorities announced 99 new cases on Friday, the first time the daily figure dropped into double-digits since data was publicized in January.

The Communist Party, meanwhile, is also going on the counteroffensive for hearts and minds.

The Party boss of Wuhan, the city at the epicenter of the outbreak, said Friday he would roll out a citywide “thankfulness education” campaign so that citizens would learn to feel appreciative toward Chinese leader Xi Jinping and the Communist Party for leading the country to overcome the epidemic.

The education campaign, Wuhan Party secretary Wang Zhonglin said, would produce “powerful positive energy” — Chinese government-speak for praise and support, rather than criticism, of the ruling party.

The Wuhan campaign comes at a time when the Chinese leadership has been widely criticized both at home and abroad for its slow response to the outbreak in January. As the country comes to grips with the virus, Chinese state media and officials have launched a propaganda campaign to tout China’s effective measures in controlling its spread.

In recent days, the effort has gone further as it aggressively casts the Communist Party guiding at the helm of a nation and deserving universal praise for its decisive leadership. The official Xinhua News Agency republished an essay this week asking the world to thank China for its work in containing the virus and demanding an apology from the United States for criticizing China.

Chinese censors have scrubbed essays from the Internet that place culpability for the global crisis on China, while government officials have strongly promoted the theory that the virus may have originated in other countries.

After Wuhan’s state newspaper reported Wang’s proposal for the thankfulness education campaign on Friday on its Weibo account, readers immediately ridiculed the plan and wondered why Wuhan citizens should thank Xi and the Party before they thanked medical volunteers and the front-line doctors who put themselves at risk to treat the city.

Within hours, the comments were rendered invisible.

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