China strengthens crackdown on illegal activities amid epidemic fight

BEIJING, Feb. 6 (Xinhua) -- China announced Thursday efforts to intensify a crackdown on illegal activities undermining the country's efforts to contain the novel coronavirus outbreak, which has killed more than 500 people on the Chinese mainland.

Those illegally trading wild animals and wildlife products as well as producing and selling counterfeit masks and other medical supplies will face maximum penalties, the State Administration for Market Regulation said.

Raising prices of vital supplies and raw materials for the outbreak control as well as daily necessities like vegetables, meat, dairy products and eggs will also be subject to severe punishments, the administration said.

It also vowed to expedite law enforcement processes to impose the penalties.

This came as the country stepped up efforts to curb the spread of the virus, including extending the Lunar New Year holiday, imposing preventive travel restrictions in some cities and ramping up production of medical supplies.

First identified in the city of Wuhan in central China's Hubei Province, the novel coronavirus quickly spread across the country. By the end of Wednesday, overall confirmed cases on the mainland reached 28,018, with 563 deaths.

(Source: Xinhua)