China admits ‘shortcomings and deficiencies’ over Coronavirus

China’s top leadership has admitted “shortcomings and deficiencies” in the country’s response to the deadly coronavirus outbreak.

The rare admission came from the Politburo Standing Committee, which called for an improvement in China’s emergency management system.

It also ordered a “severe” crackdown on illegal wildlife markets – where the virus is thought to have emerged.

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The death toll has risen to 425, with more than 20,000 confirmed cases.

“In response to the shortcomings and deficiencies… we must improve our national emergency management system and improve our abilities in handling urgent and dangerous tasks,” the report said.

“It is necessary to strengthen market supervision, resolutely ban and severely crack down on illegal wildlife markets and trade.”

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The government’s initial handling of the outbreak has been widely criticised.

Officials have been accused of downplaying the severity of the virus at the start of the outbreak and in some cases, attempting to keep news of it secret.

One doctor in Wuhan who tried to warn his fellow colleagues about the outbreak late last year was accused of “making false comments” and told by police to stop the “illegal activity”.

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It was only later in January that the government ordered the virtual lockdown of Hubei province, where the virus is believed to have originated.

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