Measures that “unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade” are not needed to fight against the spread of the coronavirus that has killed 361 people in China, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, has said.
“We call on all countries to implement decisions that are evidence-based and consistent,” Tedros told the WHO executive board on Monday.
Tedros’ comments comes as China continues to face international isolation due to restrictions on flights to and from the country, and bans on travellers from China.
Reuters reports that China’s delegate at the meeting denounced measures by “some countries” that have denied entry to people holding passports issued in Hubei province – at the center of the outbreak – and to deny visas and cancel flights.
“All these measures are seriously against recommendation by the WHO,” said Li Song, who is China’s ambassador for disarmament at the United Nations in Geneva.
China’s regular Executive Board representative was unable to attend after her flight from Beijing was canceled, Chinese diplomats told reporters on Friday.
U.S. ambassador Andrew Bremberg said that the outbreak in two dozen countries required focused attention.
“We express our support, prayers, sympathy, and appreciation to the people of China and especially the health responders on the front lines, who are protecting not only their communities, but the world,” Bremberg said.
“We are learning more about the virus every day and implementing appropriate public health measures, in keeping with WHO’s recommendations, to minimize the spread based on the best evidence available. The United States is committed to working with all partners to address this outbreak,” he added.
There have been 17,238 confirmed infections in China including 361 deaths, as well as 151 confirmed cases in 23 countries and 1 death which was reported from the Philippines on Sunday, Tendros was quoted as saying, adding that the virus’ spread abroad, he said it was “minimal and slow”, while warning that it could worsen.
He however praised China’s handling of the situation, saying that “if it weren’t for China, the number of cases outside China would have been very much higher”.