China cited for crucial delay in suspending travel . . .
The Nikkei Asian Review has revealed that China issued an order to suspend group travel to foreign countries on January 27 – four days after locking down Wuhan city. During these four days, which coincided with the start of the annual Lunar New Year holidays, thousands of Chinese travelled from Wuhan abroad, and even more travelled domestically. Chinese tourists flocked to cities like New York, Bangkok, Sydney, Toronto, and Vancouver, potentially spreading COVID-19 around the world. The Nikkei Asian Review called this delay “a blunder that would have far reaching consequences.”
Tit-for-tat between U.S. and China . . .
This report undermines the emerging Chinese narrative that its early efforts to contain the virus bought the world time. Chinese state media are now trying to spin China’s ‘all-out war’ against COVID-19 as a success story, while pointing to the shortcomings in other countries’ response to the crisis. Chinese media have been quick to cite the World Health Organization, which commended China’s efforts, and U.S. economist Paul Krugman, who coined the term ‘Trump Pandemic.’ Meanwhile, Trump and his allies are freely using the inflammatory terms ‘Wuhan Virus’ and ‘Chinese Virus.’
Global health governance the real issue . . .
The spin game on both sides masks a larger problem – the lack of global governance and co-ordination in health. The absence of institutions and rules to enforce international co-operation on disease containment has meant that countries around the world were potentially slower to react than was possible. While China was slow to suspend group domestic and international travel, other countries did a poor job of monitoring and tracking down incoming travellers from China and elsewhere. Global health governance is relevant to Canada – a home to immigrants who often fly back and forth between Canada and their native countries. About 67 per cent of Canada’s international students are from the Asia Pacific, including some 140,000 students from China and an estimated 220,000 from India. With the situation in China stabilizing, many foreign nationals in Canada may intend to return to their homes in Asia and contribute to a second wave of the outbreak. Stronger global health governance could help mitigate such issues.
- Global Times: ‘Trump pandemic’ grips the US, no escaping accountability this time
- Nikkei Asian Review: China's inaction for 3 days in January at root of pandemic
- South China Morning Post: Coronavirus: Chinese students in US face wrenching choice amid global upheaval – stay or return home