First published on April 8, 2020
On January 30th 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) in relation to China’s novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) categorized as a viral pneumonia. The virus outbreak was centred in Wuhan, a city in Eastern China with a population in excess of 11 million.
In the week prior to January 30th decision, the WHO Emergency Committee “expressed divergent views”. There were visible divisions within the Committee. On January 30th, a far-reaching decision was taken without the support of expert opinion at a time when the coronavirus outbreak was limited to Mainland China.
There were 150 confirmed cases outside China, when the decision was taken. 6 in the United States, 3 in Canada, 2 in the UK, etc.
150 confirmed cases over a population of 6.4 billion (World population of 7.8 billion minus China’s 1-4 billion).
What was the risk of being infected? Virtually zero.
The WHO did not act to reassure and inform World public opinion. Quite the opposite: A “Fear Pandemic” rather than a genuine Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) was launched.
Outright panic and uncertainty were sustained through a carefully designed media disinformation campaign.
Almost immediately this led to economic dislocations, a crisis in trade and transportation with China affecting major airlines and shipping companies. A hate campaign against ethnic Chinese in Western countries was launched, followed by the collapse in late February of stock markets, not to mention the crisis in the tourist industry resulting in countless bankruptcies.
The complexity of this crisis and its impacts have to be addressed and carefully analysed.
What we are dealing with is “economic warfare” supported by media disinformation, coupled with the deliberate intent by the Trump administration to undermine China’s economy. The ongoing economic dislocations are not limited to China.
There are important public health concerns which must be addressed. But what motivated the Director-General of the WHO to act in this way? Who was behind this historic January 30th decision of the WHO’s Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.