As cases of a new Coronavirus rise in the United States, so has the government’s response, prompting condemnation from China for causing panic instead of offering aid.
On Sunday, health officials in California confirmed three additional cases of the virus, bringing the total cases in the U.S. up to 11. In the two weeks since the virus was first identified in America, U.S. officials evacuated citizens from Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak, issued the highest level of travel advisory and imposed restrictions on inbound flights from China.
On Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters America’s actions have “unceasingly manufactured and spread panic,” according to Reuters.
“It is precisely developed countries like the United States with strong epidemic prevention capabilities and facilities that have taken the lead in imposing excessive restrictions contrary to [World Health Organization] recommendations,” Hua said.
WHO Director-General TEdros Adhanom Ghebreyesus declared a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) on Thursday, but adamantly opposed countries imposing travel or trade restrictions on China. Under a PHEIC, emergency committee chair Didier Houssin said WHO had the ability to question how United Nations members responded to the outbreak and would urge countries to reconsider restricting travel, quarantining people in “good condition” and closing borders.
“WHO should inform the world about transparency concerning these measures, which should not constitute an example to follow but a decision to reconsider,” Houssin said.
The U.S. began evacuating government personnel, their families and some private citizens from Wuhan on Tuesday with more evacuations expected to occur this week. President Donald Trump announced in a proclamation Friday that foreign nationals who were in China, excluding Hong Kong and Macau, within 14 days of their arrival to the U.S. would be refused entry.
In addition, on Sunday, the State Department increased the travel advisory from a Level 3 that urged people to “reconsider” their travel plans to Level 4, the most severe advisory, that told citizens to not travel to China. Those who were in China were urged to try to leave the country or stay at home as much as possible and limit contact with others to reduce the risk of infection.