China defended on Tuesday its handling of the Covid-19 pandemic, saying it will continue to communicate and cooperate with the World Health Organisation (WHO) in curbing the virus.

Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying made the remark after an independent panel for pandemic preparedness and response said that China could have applied public health measures more forcefully in January to curb the initial Covid-19 outbreak, and criticised the WHO for not declaring an international emergency until Jan 30.

Chunying said at the regular news briefing that while “we should, of course, strive to do better,” that did not mean China’s response had been inadequate.

China had taken decisive measures in early detection, reporting, isolation and treatment of infected patients, and those efforts reduced the number of deaths and infections, Chunying said.

The achievements had been recognised by scientists and medical experts around the globe, she added.

Every country, not only China, should strive to better deal with public health crises, said Chunying.

She cited the information analysed by the panel as saying the reality is that only a minority of countries took full advantage of the information available to them to respond to the evidence of an emerging epidemic.

The report came as an international expert team of the WHO arrived in China last week to conduct joint scientific research with Chinese scientists on origin-tracing of the coronavirus.

China supported the leadership of the WHO in the fight against the pandemic, and hoped other countries would provide the same support and assistance to the organisation, she stated.

“We firmly oppose politicising the issue of origin-tracing of the coronavirus, as it is detrimental to international joint cooperation in pandemic response.”

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