Coronavirus outbreak ‘big test’ that exposed weak links in China's public health system, admits top official

China will improve its public health response system, disease prevention and control system, said Li Bin, vice-minister of the China National Health Commission


                            Coronavirus outbreak ‘big test’ that exposed weak links in China's public health system, admits top official
(Getty Images)

Stating that the coronavirus pandemic has been a “big test,” a top Chinese health official said that it has exposed weaknesses in China’s public health system and the way the country manages an outbreak. 

The rare admission comes from Li Bin, the vice-minister of China’s National Health Commission. “This coronavirus epidemic is a big test of our country’s governance and governing ability, and it exposed the weak links in how we address major epidemic and public health systems,” said Bin, during a briefing to the Chinese media, according to Reuters. 

The official said that China will improve its public health response system, disease prevention and control system, as well as the relief system to address the weaknesses exposed during the coronavirus pandemic.

The commission wants to create an efficient chain of command to speed up responses whenever a public health emergency occurs, the expert said. The aim is to modernize the disease prevention and control system to ensure direct communication between risk assessment, handling and decision-making bodies, reports CGTN. The official also said that the commission will improve research and development capabilities.

“The commission intends to build a 'centralized and efficient' chain of command and reform, and modernize the disease prevention and control system, said the official,” according to Reuters. Bin said that the commission “also aims to make better use of big data, artificial intelligence and cloud computing to better analyze the disease, trace the virus, and distribute resources. The commission plans to step up research on core technology, improve medical insurance, and better ensure the availability of emergency materials.” 

China’s National Health Commission intends to make better use of big data, artificial intelligence, and cloud computing to better analyze the disease, trace the virus, and distribute resources (Getty Images)

China has come under a lot of criticism for its initial reaction to the outbreak in Wuhan, and for failing to quickly alert the international community of the novel coronavirus when it first emerged. 

“Several provincial and local officials from the ruling Communist Party have been sacked, but no senior member of the Party has been punished. Beijing has not responded to calls to ease censorship and state control of the media. China has now offered to help North Korea, after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un congratulated Xi Jinping on its success in fighting Covid-19, Chinese state media report,” according to BBC. 

US President Donald Trump also recently claimed that he has seen evidence that the new coronavirus originated in a Chinese lab. This is despite the US intelligence community concluding that the coronavirus “was not manmade or genetically modified.” However, investigations into the origins of the outbreak are ongoing to determine whether it began as a result of contact with animals or if it resulted from a laboratory accident in Wuhan, said the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI).

Meanwhile, according to China’s National Health Commission, 14 new confirmed Covid-19 cases, 1 new case of suspected infection, and no deaths were reported on May 9. The Commission has received reports of 82,901 confirmed cases and 4,633 deaths from across China as of May 9. In all, 78,120 patients had been cured and discharged from hospital, says the May 10 update by the Commission.

Globally, over 4,026,720 coronavirus cases have been reported as of May 10, and more than 279,340 have died in the Covid-19 pandemic, according to the Johns Hopkins tracker. 

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