Following WHO’s Lead on CCP Virus Not the Wisest Approach

March 17, 2020 Updated: March 17, 2020
FONT BFONT SText size

Commentary

The outbreak of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus, commonly known as the novel coronavirus, that began in China and quickly spread around the world has finally led to a ban on travel to Canada. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on March 16 that only Canadian citizens, permanent residents, and U.S. citizens would be allowed in.

This decision was based on the advice of both Canadian health experts and the World Health Organization, Employment Minster Carla Qualtrough has said.

But WHO’s own response to the outbreak—and to Beijing’s handling of it—has been criticized for being weak and basically following Beijing’s lead, given that the organization has close ties to the Chinese regime.

By rights, Ottawa should have banned travellers from China immediately after news of the outbreak became public. But that would have upset Beijing.

On Jan. 23, China reported 557 cases of COVID-19 and 17 deaths. There were already fourth-generation cases, infection clusters outside of Wuhan in Hubei province—the epicentre of the outbreak—and confirmed cases in Japan, Korea, Thailand, and possibly Singapore.

China put Wuhan and its population of 11 million under quarantine—but 5 million had already left. They joined travellers from across the world converging all over China for its New Year celebrations on Jan. 25.

Pandora’s box was already open. Yet, following a meeting by WHO officials on Jan. 23, Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “This is an emergency in China, but it has not yet become a global health emergency.”

On Jan. 30 a WHO statement warned, “It is expected that further international exportation of cases may appear in any country.” Yet two weeks prior, and for many that followed, WHO advised “against the application of any travel or trade restrictions on China.”

China had aggressively suppressed citizen reports that suggested the outbreak was worse than state media let on. On Jan. 28, Tedros travelled to Beijing to meet with Chinese Communist Party head Xi Jinping, then publicly praised China’s efforts.

On Jan. 30, WHO announced 7,781 CCP virus cases across 18 countries and declared an international emergency. John MacKenzie, a member of the WHO executive committee, said the international response would have been different had China not engaged in a “reprehensible” cover-up, The Financial Times reported.

Almost immediately, the United States, Australia, and Singapore decided to block foreigners from entry if they were from China or had been there recently.

On Feb. 3, the same Tedros who praised China for its travel ban chastised other nations for theirs, saying at an annual WHO meeting: “There is no reason for measures that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade. We call on all countries to implement decisions that are evidence-based and consistent.”

By then, that evidence consisted of more than 17,000 infections in 23 countries.

Tedros told the Munich Security Conference on Feb. 15 that “China has bought the world time.” It had—through travel bans he failed to recommend.

It took until March 11 for WHO to declare COVID-19 a worldwide pandemic. By then 118,000 cases were found in 110 jurisdictions. Why so long?

“Pandemic is not a word to use lightly or carelessly. It is a word that, if misused, can cause unreasonable fear,” Tedros explained, as he warned of a “crisis that will touch every sector.”

Ah, so the CCP virus would affect travel and trade after all, only now it was too late to hold back the disease as well!

WHO responded more decisively to SARS in 2003. Led by Dr. Gro Harlem Brundtland, WHO advised against travel to the disease epicentre in southern China. He even chastised the country over its arrest of whistleblowers and censorship of media regarding the outbreak.

Tedros, however, could not forget the support Beijing gave him to become director general. Speaking at Peking University shortly before he was elected on May 24, 2017, he hailed China’s potential to improve health measures in Africa. At his first bilateral meeting he assured Li Bin, minister of China’s National Health and Family Planning Commission, that WHO would continue to affirm the one-China principle. Taiwan has been shut out of WHO’s World Health Assembly ever since.

Tedros has other reasons to not offend Beijing. In April 2017, the U.N. hosted a gathering in South Africa of health ministers from 31 African countries to facilitate initiatives there. Chinese Communist Party head Xi Jinping has pledged substantial development through its Belt and Road initiative, in 2018 committing US$60 billion in new financing for Africa.

Even closer to home for Tedros is what the regime has done and continues to do in Ethiopia, where he was formerly the minister of health and of foreign affairs. China loaned Ethiopia $13.7 billion between 2000 and 2018. Now China is putting up most of the $800 million for the nation’s first six-lane highway and $2.9 billion toward a railroad to get exports to port in Djibouti.

On March 16, Trudeau finally announced a travel ban for Canada. By then the CCP virus had killed 16 Canadians and infected 424, including his own wife. One hopes after the disease hit home—quite literally—that he realized home is where the decisions for Canada need to be made.

The Epoch Times refers to the novel coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, as the CCP virus because the Chinese Communist Party’s coverup and mismanagement allowed the virus to spread throughout China and create a global pandemic.

A former think tank researcher, Lee Harding is now a journalist based in Saskatchewan.

Views expressed in this article are the opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Epoch Times.