Thu, 21 Jan 2021

BEIJING, China - As the world grapples with the coronavirus pandemic, the situation in China where the lethal virus originated last year is gradually improving.

Looking into the details of the chain of events that have played out over the last three months globally, often raises some doubts and concerns, even as much is written and discovered about coronavirus everyday.

Consider this -- there are nearly 40,000 coronavirus cases in New York City in the U.S., which is located around 15,000 km from Wuhan, the Chinese province which was the original epicenter of the outbreak.

Similarly, Italy, which came into the tidal wave of infections, and which is located at over 8,600 km from Wuhan has reported more than 80,000 cases and over 9,000 deaths.

By contrast, Shanghai, one of the global business hubs and Beijing, two Chinese cities located at 839 and 1,152 km respectively from Wuhan, have been almost untouched by the epidemic.

It remains a mystery that when almost the entire world, as far as the U.S., Italy or even Iran have been infected by the virus, then how did the Chinese capital and the world's most populous city, so close to Wuhan, remain untouched by it.

That U.S. leaders have resorted to blaming China should come as no surprise. The U.S. President has repeatedly referred to the pathogen as the Chinese virus.

Even though in early January, the Chinese authorities had reportedly accused the whistleblower doctor who tried to warn others of the possible outbreak of illness that resembled SARS, the WHO in late January congratulated the Chinese government for taking "extraordinary measures" to contain the outbreak.

A statement from the Director-General on the WHO website dated January 30, reads: "The Chinese government is to be congratulated for the extraordinary measures it has taken to contain the outbreak, despite the severe social and economic impact those measures are having on the Chinese people."

The defence of China and flowering praises for the dictatorial regime did not end there.

"...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. It's not an exaggeration." In return, the Chinese diplomats have often referred to praise heaped by the WHO to defend their government.

In early February, the Chinese Ambassador to India, Sun Weidong in an interview with ANI referred to this praise and said: "As the Director-General of WHO Dr. Tedros said, 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."

Nearly six weeks after the first evidence of human-to-human transmission was found, the World Health Organisation in its January 14 statement, echoed China's assessment. "Preliminary investigations conducted by the Chinese authorities have found no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) identified in Wuhan, China." In South Asia, when the outbreak happened, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi held a video conference with leaders from SAARC nations to share ideas on combating it.

PM Modi also announced an emergency fund to tackle the outbreak. Several SAARC nations have contributed to this fund.

Days later, PM Modi held talks with the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Mohammed bin Salman, where the two leaders discussed the global situation regarding the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The Prime Minister emphasised the need for coordinated efforts to adequately address this global challenge, which has impacted not only the health and well-being of several hundred thousand people but also threatens to adversely affect the economy in many parts of the world. In this context, the Prime Minister mentioned India's recent initiative to organise a video conference among SAARC countries," said an official statement.

According to the official statement, the two leaders agreed that a similar exercise at the level of G20 leaders, under the aegis of Saudi Arabia as the Chair of the G20, would be useful at a global scale, both for discussing specific measures to address the challenges posed by the global outbreak of COVID-19 and also to instil confidence in the global populace. This extraordinary virtual summit took place recently.

China wants India to remove its untouchability in the international community after the leadership demonstrated by India in these summits.

WHO too praised the Indian government's commitment to combat the deadly virus.

"I think the commitment of the Indian government from the top level -- the Prime Minister's office himself -- has been enormous, very impressive. This is one of the reasons why India is doing very well. I am very impressed that everyone has been mobilised," Henk Bekedam, the WHO Representative to India said. (ANI)

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