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China defends coronavirus response, says it 'wasted no time' in sharing information

China defends coronavirus response, says it 'wasted no time' in sharing information
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Chinese officials defended their response to the initial emergence of the coronavirus in the city of Wuhan amid accusations from other nations that they concealed vital information as it spread.

In a report Sunday, Beijing said it “wasted no time” in sharing information about virus, including the virus’ genome sequences, with other nations and regional organizations and the World Health Organization, The Associated Press reported.

An AP investigation had indicated government-owned labs waited at least a week before releasing the genetic map of the virus, which delayed its identification in a third country and data-sharing necessary for treatment and vaccine development.

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National Health Commission Chairman Ma Xiaowei said Sunday that the AP report “seriously goes against the facts.”

“The Chinese government did not delay or cover up anything,” he said. “Instead, we have immediately reported virus data and relevant information about the epidemic to the international community and made an important contribution to the prevention and control of the epidemic around the world.”

Ma said Beijing began providing regular updates to the WHO beginning Jan. 3, and that China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention briefed their U.S. counterparts Jan. 4, according to the AP. The report also credits President Xi Jinping for locking down Wuhan beginning Jan. 22. The 66-page English-language version of the report  said China achieved a “decisive victory ... in the battle to defend Hubei Province and its capital city of Wuhan” in about three months.

Although the pandemic has severely damaged U.S./China relations, Vice Foreign Minister Ma Zhaoxu suggested without naming the U.S. that it was an outlier in blaming China for the virus.

“Certain countries go against the tide of history. To disguise their inadequate response to COVID-19, they insanely smeared and slandered China,” he said. “In response to such scapegoating practice, China will certainly fight back.”