Chinese President Xi Jinping inspected efforts to contain the Wuhan coronavirus in the capital Beijing on Monday, the first time he has appeared on the front lines of the fight against the outbreak.
Wearing a protective face mask, Xi visited a specially built center in the city's Chaoyang district, according to state broadcaster CCTV. The capital is gradually getting back to work Monday, after the Lunar New Year holiday became an extended voluntary quarantine for millions of people across the country.
Xi has been strangely missing in recent weeks, not appearing on front pages or CCTV's main news broadcasts, which he usually dominates even if his activities are barely newsworthy.
Speculation is rife about just why Xi has taken such a backseat visually, even as state media has been keen to emphasize that he has been guiding all efforts from behind the scenes.
The most convincing theory is that China's propaganda apparatus is trying to thread the needle of having Xi receive the credit for successful measures against the virus, while not catching any blame or fallout from myriad missteps, particularly in Wuhan.