NPC 2020: China to expand medical, testing capabilities to prevent resurgence of epidemics like Covid-19

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BEIJING – China will build more medical facilities and expand testing capabilities, as part of medical reforms to prevent the resurgence of an epidemic like Covid-19, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Friday (May 22).

Delivering his work report at the annual opening of the meetings of the National People’s Congress, Mr Li flagged these improvements to the public health system as a priority for Beijing going forward.

“The Covid-19 epidemic is the fastest spreading, most extensive and most challenging public health emergency China has encountered since the founding of the People’s Republic,” he told some 3,000 assembled delegates at the Great Hall of the People in the Chinese capital.

The coronavirus pandemic, which was first reported in the Chinese city of Wuhan last December, has infected more than 82,000 people in China and killed about 4,600.

The coronavirus has also dealt the economy a heavy blow, after the government instituted lockdowns to curb the spread of the virus – China’s GDP contracted 6.8 per cent in the first quarter of this year, the worst on record.

It also caused the annual legislative meetings or Two Sessions, usually held in March, to be delayed by more than two months.

China is facing both international and domestic criticism over whether it had reported the emergence of the coronavirus in a timely manner – first discovered as a mysterious pneumonia-like illness in Wuhan.

On Friday, Mr Li said: “We will reform the system for disease prevention and control, improve mechanisms for direct reporting and early warning of infectious diseases, and ensure prompt, open, and transparent release of epidemic information.”

Beijing would also increase inputs into research and development of vaccines, medicines and testing technologies,” he said.

“We need to greatly enhance our prevention and control capability, resolutely prevent a resurgence of Covid-19, and protect the health of our people.”

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