The deadly coronavirus, which so far infected over 20,000 people in China, has spread to 25 countries, including India, the US, the UK and Russia. (Photo Credit: File Photo)
Chinese armament firms, including those building aircraft carrier and military aircraft, have halted work in order to focus on controlling the risk of rapidly spreading coronavirus that has killed 425 people in the country, official media here reported on Monday. The deadly virus, which so far infected over 20,000 people in China, has spread to 25 countries, including India, the US, the UK and Russia.
"Chinese armaments companies have postponed planned work in order to concentrate on controlling the risk of spreading the novel coronavirus, including those building the country's new aircraft carrier and fighter jets," state-run Global Times said in a brief report. China launched its first aircraft carrier in 2014 which is a refitted vessel of the hull of a former Soviet ship. The country recently operationalised its second aircraft carrier even as it built the third one.
Official media reports say China plans to acquire about five to six aircraft carriers in the coming years. Also, China is developing a host of new fighter jets, including stealth bombers.
The suspension of the work is part of the radical measures being taken by the ruling Communist Party of China to combat the fast spreading virus.
Meanwhile, China's top leadership body admitted "shortcomings and difficulties" in its response to a coronavirus outbreak that has killed more than 360 and infected more than 20,000, state media reported. The comments came after China reported 57 new deaths Monday -- the single-biggest daily increase since the virus was detected late last year in the central city of Wuhan, where it is believed to have jumped from animals at a market to humans.
The elite Politburo Standing Committee called for improvements to the "national emergency management system" following "shortcoming and difficulties exposed in the response to the epidemic," according to Xinhua news agency.
"It is necessary to strengthen market supervision, resolutely ban and severely crack down on illegal wildlife markets and trade," it added.
Officials in Wuhan have been criticised for withholding information about the outbreak until the end of last year, despite knowing about the new illness weeks earlier.
China's death toll from the coronavirus has now surpassed that of the SARS crisis nearly two decades ago, with the government on Monday saying it "urgently" needed medical equipment and surgical masks to tackle the outbreak.
The virus has since spread to more than 24 countries despite many governments imposing unprecedented travel bans on arrivals coming from China.
At the Politburo meeting President Xi Jinping said controlling the outbreak would have a "direct bearing on the stability of the overall economic and social situation, as well as China's opening up," Xinhua said.