China must learn from ‘shortcomings’ in coronavirus response: President Xi Feb 24, 2020 0 424 12345 AFPBeijingThe coronavirus epidemic that has killed over 2,400 people is communist China’s “largest public health emergency” since its founding in 1949, President Xi Jinping said on Sunday.It is necessary to learn from “obvious shortcomings exposed” during China’s response, Xi added at an official meeting to coordinate the virus fight -- a rare acknowledgment by a Chinese leader.The new coronavirus has drawn comparisons to the SARS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome) outbreak of 2002-2003 which killed nearly 650 people across mainland China and Hong Kong, and led to criticism over authorities’ cover-up.While China has been praised by the World Health Organization for its handling of the epidemic this time, the death of whistleblower doctor Li Wenliang, who was reprimanded for warning about the virus, sparked calls for political reform and freedom of speech in the country.Xi spoke at a meting of China’s top leaders including the Communist Party’s Central Committee and the Central Military Commission,according to CCTV.In comments reported by state broadcaster CCTV on Sunday, Xi said the epidemic “has the fastest transmission, widest range of infection and has been the most difficult to prevent and control”.“This is a crisis for us and it is a big test,” he said.Xi’s comments come as the number of virus infections hit almost 77,000 in mainland China -- with countries such as South Korea on high alert and Italy taking containment measures as well.Xi acknowledged that the epidemic will “inevitably have a large impact on the economy and society”, but he stressed the effects will be “short-term” and controllable.China has seen a slow return to work since an extended Spring Festival break, as officials urged the public to avoid gatherings and stay at home.Those living in “low-risk areas” should return to regular life as soon as possible, Xi said, calling for new fiscal measures to help smaller businesses that have been hit hard by the outbreak.China’s infection rate has slowed, but flip-flopping over counting methods has sowed confusion over its data.There also was growing concern over the difficulty of detecting the virus. Pages 12 RELATED ARTICLES Walls, mud packs and monkey removal for Trump’s India visit Feb 24, 2020 0 625 The Global spread of deadly Covid-19 Feb 24, 2020 0 1202 Ten student scouts killed in Indonesia flash flood Feb 24, 2020 0 868 South Korea raises virus alert to highest level after jump in cases Seoul/Beijing: South Korea decided to raise its alert over the coronavirus to its highest level, President Moon Jae In announced on Sunday, after the country reported over 150 new cases of the virus. Moon said that the .. Third death from Japan cruise ship as new cases raise quarantine doubts Tokyo: A third person from a coronavirus-stricken cruise ship quarantined off Japan has died, the health ministry said on Sunday, as new infections among former passengers emerged. Japan has been criticised in the face .. Pakistan closes land border with Iran, Afghanistan bans travel over virus fears AFP Islamabad Pakistan on Sunday closed its land border with Iran, while Afghanistan suspended travel to the neighbouring country as fears across the region continued to grow over a jump in new coronavirus infections. .. Mobile phone services restored as Afghan truce holds Kabul: Mobile phone services were restored across swathes of Taliban-contested areas of Afghanistan over the weekend as a partial truce with the militants held for a second day. The commitment has seen fighting drop .. Trump says he would sign a peace deal with the Taliban AFP Washington US President Donald Trump said on Sunday he would sign a peace deal with the Taliban if one were eventually reached in Afghanistan. “Yes,” he told reporters at the White House as he prepared to depart on a trip .. Malaysia’s Anwar says partners trying to bring down govt Kuala Lumpur: Malaysia’s leader-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim on Sunday denounced “betrayal” in his ruling coalition, saying that some partners were trying to bring down the government and form a new one. The comments came ..