Beijing has sent a protégé of President Xi Jinping and a senior health official to the epicentre of a coronavirus outbreak , raising the political profile of its crisis response as handling of the outbreak and the death of a whistle-blower doctor erode public trust in the authorities. Chen Yixin, secretary general of the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission, the Communist Party’s top law enforcement body, will be added to the national team overseeing handling of the outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei province, according to Taoran Notes, a social media account affiliated with state-owned Economic Daily . Chen’s appointment was designed to bolster the frontline team working to contain the outbreak, the report said. National Health Commission deputy director Wang Hesheng had also been sent to Wuhan, joining the provincial party standing committee, the official Hubei Daily reported on Saturday. Wang was also the propaganda chief of the northern municipality of Tianjin for two years. Chen’s security background might help Beijing coordinate its response to the outbreak and ensure social stability, according to Wuhan University law professor Qin Qianhong. “The fight against the outbreak now requires more coordination with the military and police force, and Chen’s background might be useful. And he used to be [Wuhan’s] party chief,” Qin said. “The social stability consideration is also obvious. Resentment among patients, their family and people’s lives affected by the virus and the city’s lockdown status is building.” Qin said Chen was known as a good public speaker, and for being decisive and energetic. But he was not remembered in Wuhan for any major achievements, given that he was there for just two years, Qin added. Chen’s official resume indicates that he is one of Xi’s long-time proteges and an expert on maintaining social stability. Chen, 60, spent more than three decades of his career in Zhejiang, where Xi was governor and then party chief from 2002 to 2007. Chen led the secretariat body that served the provincial leadership during those five years. Chen was promoted in 2015 to deputy director of the general office of the Central Leading Group for Comprehensively Deepening Reform, a top-level party organ founded and chaired by Xi. Chen then spent two years as party chief of Wuhan before moving onto his present security job in 2018. In the past two years, Chen has repeatedly made speeches about the need for safeguarding political security, as well as tackling risks that could undermine social stability. His new role follows the death of Li Wenliang, a doctor in Wuhan who was reprimanded and silenced by local police for disclosing the danger of the virus to his friends. Li contracted the virus and his death prompted demands online for punishment of those who sought to silence him as well as calls for greater freedom of expression to avoid similar tragedies. The morning after his death, Beijing sent a team of investigators from its top anti-corruption body to Wuhan to look into matters related to Li’s death. The team arrived in Wuhan on Saturday, state media reported. In the past week, Beijing has sought to contain the deadly coronavirus as well as ease public anger, most of which is still directed at the provincial leadership. Xi said on Monday that epidemic prevention and control was more than a health issue – it affected China’s social and economic stability. Analysts said they expected the central leadership to double down on containment efforts in the coming days to ensure the crisis did not affect other Beijing policy goals, including economic growth and poverty alleviation. “But the economic impact of the [city] lockdown and related policies will be significant and will hurt. How badly will depend on how long and how tightly the policy will be implemented,” said Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute in London.