China admits ‘shortcomings and difficulties’ in response

White House considers ban on China flights amid coronavirus outbreak

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Chinese health officials acknowledged “shortcomings and difficulties” in their initial response to a fast-spreading new virus as the death toll soared to nearly 500 Tuesday. 

The powerful Standing Committee of the Politburo issued a statement saying officials who had failed in their duties would face discipline. It pledged better responses to emergencies in the future.

Chinese President Xi Jinping warned that failing to halt the outbreak could erode social stability in the nation of more than 1.4 billion people.

“The outbreak is a major test of China’s system and capacity for governance,” Xi said, according to state media. “We must sum up the experience and draw a lesson from it.”

More than 20,000 cases of the virus have been confirmed around the world, fewer than 300 of them outside mainland China. Eleven of them are in the U.S. 

The death toll was at 492, all in mainland China except for one in Hong Kong and one in the Philippines. More than 2,000 hospital workers in Hong Kong went on strike for a second day Tuesday to demand that the border with mainland China be closed in response to the outbreak.

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