Issues raised by coronavirus in geopolitics, science and economics
The World Health Organization should not exclude Taiwan from efforts to tackle the outbreak, writes David YL Lin of the Taipei Representative Office. David E Hanke says an anthropomorphic explanation of viruses can be dangerous. And Robert East warns about the potential effect on share prices
Date: 5 Feb 2020
People wearing face masks in Taipei, Taiwan, on Tuesday 4 February 2020 – the same day that the foreign ministry announced that, starting on 7 February, Taiwan will bar entry to foreigners who have visited China in the past 14 days as a precaution against the spread of coronavirus. Photograph: David Chang/EPA
Jennifer Rohn is right to warn that we should learn the lessons of Sars (Journal, 5 February) as the world combats the spread of the coronavirus. The issue of Taiwan’s exclusion from the World Health Organization due to pressure from China, and the loophole it created in global health, should also be brought into the spotlight. Taiwan’s Centre for Disease Control confirmed the first imported case on 21 January and immediately reported it to the WHO. We regret that Taiwan is the only country with a confirmed imported case that was left out of the WHO’s emergency committee meeting, because China is blocking Taiwan’s attendance in the UN health agency.
The situation is a fresh reminder of the catastrophic Sars epidemic in 2002-03, at which time Taiwan suffered tremendous loss, unable to engage with the WHO directly, and was forced to rely on US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials to obtain vital information from the WHO. Let’s hope history does not repeat itself. As the coronavirus outbreak has been declared a global health emergency, we call on the WHO to recognise that Taiwan is not part of China. It is time for the WHO to include Taiwan and its 23 million people, and stop damaging efforts to tackle the coronavirus outbreak and harming global health. [FULL STORY]