Communist Party of China Chairman Xi Jinping has warned that the ongoing coronavirus outbreak has become the nation’s largest public health emergency since the beginning of its modern government, the People’s Republic, which started in 1949.
Xi discussed the coronavirus concerns in remarks broadcast on Chinese state television and reported by AFP on Sunday. The global death toll from the coronavirus outbreak has risen to more than 2,400 with over 80,000 cases of infection, most of which have occurred within China.
Xi said the coronavirus outbreak, which started in the Chinese city of Wuhan, has grown into the “largest public health emergency.”
“This is a crisis for us and it is a big test,” Xi continued.
Xi even appeared to concede that the Chinese government has struggled to handle the virus outbreak, which has spread throughout the Hubei province and has passed beyond China’s borders to other countries. Xi said China must overcome “obvious shortcomings exposed,” by the recent outbreak.
Though the World Health Organization (WHO) praised China for its efforts to stop the virus, others within the country have raised concerns about the Chinese government’s secrecy and efforts to suppress early warnings raised by whistle-blowing doctor Li Wenliang who has since died.
Journalists and activists in the country have also gone missing throughout the coronavirus outbreak and China recently ordered three Wall Street Journal reporters to leave the country after the paper’s negative coverage of China’s handling of the virus.
The country already locked down millions of people under travel restrictions in January amid concerns about the rapid spread of the virus.
China has also struggled with losses to its available medical staff. Chinese medical professionals have seen several deaths and infections as a result of their interactions with coronavirus patients. Some 3,000 medical staff in China may be infected with the coronavirus. The country has also reportedly faced shortages of medical equipment and protective gear.
Outside of China, the number of deaths from the coronavirus has reached eight in Iran, and 43 continuing cases. Iran has imposed travel bans to prevent the virus from continuing to enter the country.
South Korea, another country heavily hit by the coronavirus outbreak has reported six deaths. The number of coronavirus cases in South Korea nearly tripled over the weekend to 602 cases.
Cases have spread to countries around the world. Public health officials in the U.S. have already confirmed 34 cases of the virus within the country, according to the New York Times.
The virus could also upset the recent phase one trade deal between China and the U.S. as many Chinese countries have struggled to keep up their output of goods and maintain key economic supply chains.