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WHO doesn’t recommend, and opposes restrictions for travel, trade or other measures against China


Alwihda Info | Par peoplesdaily - 15 Février 2020

“We would have seen many more cases outside China by now - and probably deaths -if it were not for the government’s efforts and the progress they have made to protect their own people and the people of the world. The speed with which China detected the outbreak, isolated the virus, sequenced the genome, and shared it with WHO and the world are very impressive, and beyond words. So is China’s commitment to transparency and to supporting other countries. In many ways, China is actually setting a new standard for outbreak response, and it’s not an exaggeration,” said the WHO chief.


By Zhang Penghui, People’s Daily

The World Health Organization (WHO) doesn’t recommend, and actually opposes any restrictions for travel and trade or other measures against China, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said at a news conferences held in Geneva on Jan 30 local time.

At the conference, he declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern over the global outbreak of novel coronavirus and summarized recommendations in seven key areas.

There is no reason for measures that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade, Ghebreyesus stressed, saying the WHO doesn’t recommend limiting trade and movement and calls on all countries to implement decisions that are evidence-based and consistent.

Didier Houssin, chair of the Emergency Committee (EC) of the WHO, explained that travel restrictions are not recommended, such as visa refusal, border closure, quarantine of travelers who are in good condition.

The WHO suggests some countries and regions provide science supporting for their decisions to issue travel restrictions and reconsider some restrictive measures they’ve taken.

Ghebreyesus expressed that the he had noticed that some airlines actually said that they are not flying. It’s not because of the virus, it’s because they don’t have enough passengers, the WHO chief said, adding that could be a reason, and it will be very difficult if that’s the case.

A WHO spokesman reiterated in an interview with People’s Daily that based on currently available information, WHO does not recommend any restriction of travel or trade. Countries are encouraged to continue strengthening their preparedness for health emergencies in line with the International Health Regulations (2005).

Marc Van Ranst, dean of the School of Microbiology, Immunology and Transplantation at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in the Dutch-speaking town of Leuven in Belgium, is an authoritative medical scientist in Europe, and has long been the Interministerial comissionar, providing advices in dealing with influenza pandemic in Belgium. His team is currently conducting research on novel coronavirus.

In an interview with People’s Daily, he said that after the global outbreak of novel coronavirus was listed as a public health emergency of international concern, the WHO will be able to coordinate and organize more international assistance to jointly fight the epidemic. For instance, it could consult with China to dispatch an international medical expert group and raise more medical supplies.

The WHO spokesman said that the international expert group will go to China as soon as possible to join hands with Chinese experts to carry out more relevant research on virus transmission and outbreaks.

The release of public health emergencies of international concern is WHO's normal practice based on the spread of the epidemic, said Ranst.

From the perspective of epidemic prevention and control, this move will help raise awareness among the government, the public, and relevant people, and provide conditions for the elimination of the epidemic, he added.

The 2009 H1N1 flu pandemic in the United States was classified as a public health emergency of international concern. In 2016, WHO announced the Zika virus outbreak in Brazil as a public health emergency of international concern. That year, Brazil even hosted the Olympics, and when the summer came, the epidemic in Brazil had greatly eased.

It is believed that the epidemic of the novel coronavirus will soon be curbed, said the expert.

Ghebreyesus highly praised China's efforts to fight the epidemic again at the press conference and expressed great confidence in China's success in fighting the epidemic.

He spoke highly of China's efforts to fight the epidemic and believes that China's actions set an example for the international community and made a huge contribution to curbing the spread of the epidemic outside China.

“We would have seen many more cases outside China by now - and probably deaths -if it were not for the government’s efforts and the progress they have made to protect their own people and the people of the world. The speed with which China detected the outbreak, isolated the virus, sequenced the genome, and shared it with WHO and the world are very impressive, and beyond words. So is China’s commitment to transparency and to supporting other countries. In many ways, China is actually setting a new standard for outbreak response, and it’s not an exaggeration,” said the WHO chief.


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