China’s Communist Party dismissed two health officials in Hubei, the province at the center of the epidemic, the state-run media reported on Tuesday. They were the first senior officials to be punished for the government’s handling of the outbreak.
They were replaced by a deputy head of the National Health Commission, Wang Hesheng, whom Beijing dispatched to the region three days ago to take over the provincial government’s response to the crisis, according to the media reports.
Mr. Wang will take over the duties of both officials: Zhang Jin, the Communist Party secretary for Hubei’s health commission, and Liu Yingzi, the health commission’s director. Mr. Wang previously held a variety of positions overseeing public health and family planning in Tianjin, near Beijing, and on the national level beginning in 2016.
It was not immediately clear whether the dismissals were the beginning of a broader political shake-up in the provincial government, whose response to the outbreak has been widely criticized. The party secretary and the mayor of Wuhan, Ma Guoqiang and Zhou Xianwang, both offered to resign but remain in their posts.
Until now, only two others have been dismissed in connection with the outbreak: two officials from Huajiahe, a township about a two-hour drive west of Wuhan. They were ousted after a disabled teenager died after his father, his sole caregiver, was quarantined.
After accusations of racism, a cruise line rescinds ban on Chinese passengers.
The Royal Caribbean cruise company on Monday rescinded its ban on Chinese passport holders onboard its ships.
But the company’s reversal is little comfort to one passenger, Xiao Liu.
Ms. Liu, a 34-year-old scientist at Princeton University, arrived at Port Canaveral, Fla., on Friday with her husband and 3-year-old daughter to board a cruise ship called Mariner of the Seas. A health care worker checked their temperatures and asked whether they had been in contact with anybody from mainland China recently. Though they answered no, the worker did not allow Ms. Liu on the cruise because she carries a Chinese passport.