January 31, 2020 / 1:50 PM / a month ago

Chinese city of Wuhan says it should have acted sooner to contain virus

Workers labour at the construction site of the new Leishenshan Hospital, a makeshift hospital for treating patients of the new coronavirus, in Wuhan, Hubei province, China January 31, 2020. cnsphoto via REUTERS

BEIJING (Reuters) - Wuhan, the epicentre of a coronavirus that has quickly spread beyond China’s borders in recent days, should have taken measures sooner to contain it, the city’s Communist Party chief said on Friday.

The impact of the virus on the rest of China and on the world “would have been less” if the containment measures had been implemented sooner, Ma Guoqiang said in a nationally televised interview.

The coronavirus outbreak that began in Wuhan, capital of China’s central province of Hubei, has so far killed more than 200 people, all in China, and affected more than 9,800 people worldwide, surpassing the total from the 2002-2003 SARS epidemic.

The task of containing and preventing the spread of the coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan remains “severe and complex”, its mayor Zhou Xianwang said earlier on Friday.

Supplies of masks and other medical resources are still inadequate, vice mayor Xu Honglan said.

Zhou and Xu were speaking at a televised press conference.

The United States and other countries tightened travel curbs on Friday and businesses said they were facing supply problems because of the coronavirus in China, a day after the World Health Organization declared a global health emergency.

Reporting by Yilei Sun, Roxanne Liu and Ryan Woo; editing by Gareth Jones

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