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. At the center of China’s response has been imposing an unprecedented quarantine on Wuhan, the city of 19 million where the outbreak began. However, the disease had already been spreading for around a month by then, and had already reached other cities and countries.