He ordered all levels of government to “put people’s life and health as top priority” and ordered groups to be sent to Hubei Province, the epicenter of the outbreak, to work directly on the ground.
The never-before-seen virus began to infect people in a seafood and poultry market in the central city of Wuhan, with a population of 11 million people, late last year.
As of Saturday morning, authorities confirmed that the death toll had risen to 56, while 1,975 cases of infection had been listed across the country.
Chinese officials have so far placed several cities, including Wuhan, under a lockdown in an attempt to prevent the spread of the virus. It has been transmitting nevertheless. On Sunday, the government announced a partial lockdown on the southern city of Shantou, where two cases had been detected.