Chinese President Xi Jinping has said that the coronavirus outbreak was the most serious health crisis the country has experienced since the founding of the Peoples Republic of China in 1949.
"This is a crisis for us and it is a big test," Efe news quoted Xi as saying said at a meeting with the seven members of the Politburo Standing Committee, the highest governing body of the country, on Sunday.
"The COVID-19 outbreak is a major public health emergency that spreads fastest, causes the most extensive infection, and is the most difficult to contain in the country since the founding of the People's Republic of China."
Xi urged government agencies at all levels to continue with the "unremitting" work on the prevention and control of the deadly virus "and resume work and production in an orderly manner".
Xi described the outbreak as "grim and complex" and added it was "now a most crucial moment to curb the spread".
"Efforts should be made to fully unleash the huge potential and powerful driving force of China's development and strive to achieve the goals and tasks for economic and social development this year."
Xi said Hubei province and its capital Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak, were the "main battlefield" against the epidemic and paid tribute to those "who have been fighting on the front line of epidemic prevention and control".
The unusual leadership meeting brought together leaders at provincial, local and district levels as well as military officials.
It took place a day before the governing body of China's National Popular Assembly (ANP) will decide on the postponement of the annual meeting of the Chinese legislature, scheduled to start on March 5.
The ANP will also consider a proposal to prohibit the trade of wild animals in the country and the consumption of game meat, practices that experts suspect were the cause of the new coronavirus outbreak.
As of Monday, the coronavirus death toll in mainland China has increased to 2,592 with 77,150 confirmed cases.