WHO chief says evacuation of foreign nationals from virus-hit China not recommended
Beijing, Jan 29: The World Health Organisation "does not recommend the evacuation" of foreign nationals from China's virus-hit Hubei province, the chief of the UN health body, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said on Tuesday as he called on the international community to remain calm.
His remarks during his meeting with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi came as India, US and several other countries are finalising plans to evacuate their citizens from Hubei province, the epicentre of the virus outbreak.
Over 250 Indians, mostly students, research scholars and professionals are working in Indian and international companies in Hubei province for which Wuhan is the capital where the deadly coronavirus first emerged last month.
China on Tuesday reported 24 more deaths from coronavirus epidemic, taking the number of fatalities to 106 as the confirmed cases of pneumonia caused by the outbreak stand at 4,515. Crucially from China's point of view, Ghebreyesus said the WHO "does not recommend the evacuation of nationals, and called on the international community to remain calm and not overreact," according to state-run Xinhua news agency.
Thousands of foreign nationals from Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh besides large number of people from African countries were reportedly held up in the virus-hit province. China has already permitted to evacuate US and various other countries which had Consulates in Wuhan. Ghebreyesus, who is visiting Beijing for talks with Chinese officials on the crisis, appreciated China's efforts in curbing the spread of pneumonia. During his meeting with Wang, Ghebreyesus said the WHO and the international community speak highly of and fully affirm the decisive measures the Chinese government has taken, Xinhua reported.
"The WHO is confident in China's epidemic prevention and control ability," he said.
After the virus outbreak, China identified the pathogens in record time, shared the genetic sequence of the novel coronavirus with the WHO and other nations, and carried out a series of effective measures to curb the spread of the virus, he said, adding that the power of China's system and the effectiveness of its measures are "rarely seen in the world" and are "admirable."
He said the WHO hopes to strengthen cooperation with China and is willing to provide all necessary help. Wang said China "appreciates the WHO's objective and just stance and its full recognition to China's anti-virus measures".
"Your visit to China not only shows your support for China but also injects impetus into China's cooperation with the WHO," said Wang. "We have full capability, confidence and resources to overcome the epidemic at an early date," Wang said.
China is willing to continuously deepen cooperation with the international community, especially the WHO, in an open and transparent manner to contribute to global public health, Wang said. In New Delhi, Chinese Ambassador Sun Weidong also said the WHO "does not recommend the evacuation of nationals, and called on the international community to remain calm and not overreact."
"The WHO is confident in China's epidemic prevention and control ability," Sun tweeted. On Sunday, the WHO admitted an error in its assessment of the global risk of a deadly virus in China, saying it was "high" and not "moderate", reports said. The Geneva-based health body said in its latest situation report that the risk was "very high in China, high at the regional level and high at the global level." Ahead of his visit to China, Ghebreyesus said on Thursday that "this is an emergency in China, but it has not yet become a global health emergency.''