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'Public criticism of virus response understandable'

2020-05-23 HKT 18:25
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  • Gao Fu, director of the disease control and prevention centre, says they accept public criticism 'with humility'. File photo: AFP
    Gao Fu, director of the disease control and prevention centre, says they accept public criticism 'with humility'. File photo: AFP
The mainland’s top disease control official said on Saturday that public criticism over the initial coronavirus outbreak was understandable, but defended Beijing's response to the crisis.

"With such a large epidemic in China and the world, it is very normal to receive criticism from the public," Gao Fu, director of the disease control and prevention centre, told reporters on the sidelines of the National People’s Congress.

"We accept them with humility," Gao said.

Countries including the United States and Australia have criticised Beijing over a lack of transparency during the early days of the pandemic. China has labelled the allegations as "preposterous".

Gao said the disease control centre should improve its epidemic reporting mechanism and address the severe talent drain in the wake of the virus outbreak.

But despite some of the weaknesses that was exposed in his agency during the epidemic, which first emerged in Wuhan late last year, Gao said the nation's response was "good" compared with other countries as it had to handle a "closed-book exam."

However, scientists are still unable to establish how the virus was passed on to humans, Gao said, adding: "I hope the public can give scientists more time for us to understand this virus."

The competition among countries to develop a coronavirus vaccine is "positive", Gao said.

"China is negotiating with various countries on the cooperation of vaccine research and development," Gao said.

"We are discussing at what point we need to bring in competition via intellectual property protection to speed up the progress."

The mainland has reported a sharp fall in locally transmitted cases since March as major restrictions on people movement helped it to take control of the epidemic in many parts of the country.

The number of confirmed cases in the country so far stood at 82,971 with 4,634 deaths, according to the official figures. (Reuters)