Daily Archives: February 1, 2020

Curbs on Travelers from China to Limit Spread of Coronavirus Could Backfire: WHO

GENEVA – The World Health Organization warns travel bans to limit the spread of the new coronavirus from China could backfire and lead to a worsening of the epidemic worldwide. Latest reports put the number of confirmed cases at nearly 12,000, including 259 deaths, with most of the cases and all of the deaths occurring in China.

A WHO emergency committee declared the coronavirus a global public health threat on Thursday, triggering a series of recommendations aimed at limiting the spread of the deadly disease.

WHO does not recommend any restrictions on travel and trade despite the rapid acceleration of the disease inside China and its steady, but relentless growth worldwide. More than 100 cases are reported in 22 other countries.

In response, some airlines have stopped flying to mainland China. The United States, which has declared the coronavirus a public health emergency, says it will deny entry to foreigners who recently visited China. Australia says it will take similar action.

WHO spokesman, Christian Lindmeier, says closing borders will not keep out the virus.

As we know from other scenarios, be it Ebola or other cases, whenever people want to travel, they will. And, if the official paths are not open, they will find unofficial paths,” said Lindmeier. “But the only way to control, to check fever, for example, to identify travel history, to try to monitor who is coming across your border and to see whether they have any signs of infection is through official border crossing points.

Lindmeier says states have the sovereign right to take whatever measures they believe are best to protect their citizens.

Yet, the recommendations stay. And, if travel restrictions are imposed, then we would hope these are as short-lived as possible to try to continue normal flow of life as good as possible,” said Lindmeier. “But of course, increase surveillance and monitoring in order to avoid the spread of the disease.

China is taking draconian measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus. Wuhan city, the epicenter of the disease and 15 other cities have been quarantined, placing an estimated 50 million people under lockdown.

Despite these efforts, the virus continues to spread at a rapid pace.

Source: Voice of America

Charity Boat With 363 Rescued Migrants Aboard Needs a Port

ROME – A Spanish charity boat with 363 rescued migrants aboard is appealing to be allowed to dock at a port so it can let passengers disembark after several days in the Mediterranean Sea.

Gerard Canals, head of the Open Arms mission, on Saturday also expressed concern that food could run out. He said there was about 30 kilos (66 pounds) of rice aboard, enough to last about two more days.

In a separate tweet, Open Arms said the migrants were crowded together on the bridge of the rescue boat.

The migrants were taken aboard Open Arms in five separate rescues from distressed boats launched by Libya-based human traffickers over the past few days.

After no permission came from Malta for a safe port, Canals said, the rescue group is hoping Italy will allow it to dock.

In the past few months Italy has allowed such charity ships to disembark rescued migrants at its ports on condition that other European Union nations agree to take some of the asylum-seekers. Several EU nations have done so, making good on pledges to share the migrant burden at a conference in Malta a few months ago.

During Italy’s previous government, which included the anti-migrant League, then-Interior Minister Matteo Salvini triggered repeated standoffs at sea when he refused port permission to private rescue ships. In some cases, the rescuers were left in limbo for days or forced to sail as far as Spain to disembark migrants.

Source: Voice of America