China gave a rare admission of fault, admitting 'deficiencies' in its response to the Wuhan coronavirus that has now infected more than 20,000 people

China gave a rare admission of fault, admitting 'deficiencies' in its response to the Wuhan coronavirus that has now infected more than 20,000 people

Passengers wearing masks, amid the new coronavirus outbreak, are checked by Iraqi Health Ministry employees upon their arrival at Basra airport, in Basra, Iraq February 1, 2020. REUTERS/Essam al-Sudani

  • China recognized "shortcomings and deficiencies" in an official account of its top-level political committee released Tuesday.
  • The Chinese state is famously reluctant to admit when it gets things wrong.
  • But it is on the back foot as the so-called Wuhan coronavirus continued to spread, which this week officially became worse than the SARS epidemic of the early 2000s.
  • China's elite Politburo Standing Committee China said it will revamp its emergency systems and crack down on the wildlife trade, thought to be linked to the current outbreak.
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In a rare admission of fault, China recognized "shortcomings and deficiencies" in its response to the coronavirus outbreak that is ravaging China and spreading around the world.

The Wuhan coronavirus, officially known as 2019-nCoV, has so far killed 425 people in China and one in the Philippines. More than 20,000 infections have been confirmed.

The admission came from the Politburo Standing Committee, the most powerful body of the Chinese Communist Party which rules the country.

An account of the meeting, published by the official Xinhua news agency, said that the epidemic had exposed problems in China's emergency management, which it pledged to address.


It said: "In response to the shortcomings and deficiencies exposed in the response to this epidemic, we must improve the national emergency management system and improve our ability to handle urgent and dangerous tasks."

Such an admission is unusual from the Chinese government, which rarely admits mistakes. It is also further proof of the seriousness of the outbreak, which this week surpassed the SARS epidemic in both its scale and the number of deaths in mainland China.

The country imposed an unprecedented quarantine on Wuhan, the 19-million-strong city at the center of the outbreak.

However, the disease had been spreading for around a month by then, and had already spread.

The Wuhan coronavirus outbreak, like the SARS coronavirus, likely started in a Chinese wet market, where experts believe the virus jumped from bats, to snakes, to people.


"It is necessary to strengthen market supervision, resolutely ban and severely crack down on illegal wildlife markets and trade," the committee continued in the statement.

Wuhan is panic-building two hospitals to accommodate for the growing number of patients that have overwhelmed medical staff.

The first of the hospitals, which was built in 10 days, is already accepting patients.

During the SARS outbreak, China largely kept the disease's spread under wraps, ordering state media to suppress the scale of the disease.

The country eventually apologized for its slow response to that outbreak as well.