Pathogens don’t stop at borders. So by definition, outbreaks require international cooperation across vastly different political and cultural systems. They challenge country leaders to put their differences aside and work together to contain a new disease before it becomes unstoppable. At the same time, outbreaks bring with them immense sudden needs — for medical supplies, for example — that make the sharing of resources harder. On this page, we are curating key stories about the political impact of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Reuters World News | David Lawder | Feb. 10, 2020
The World Bank is offering technical assistance to China to help battle the coronavirus epidemic but no new health loans.
Aljazeera | Erin Hale | Feb. 6, 2020
Taiwan exists in a political grey area. It is not under the rule of China’s Communist Party, but Beijing does exert claims over Taiwan that prevent it from being part of various international organizations, such as the World Health Organization. During this outbreak, this has created a complex situation for Taiwan, which is considered to be part of China and is therefore subject to travel bans and is denied access to certain information. Taiwan is also unable to share its insights about the outbreak, which, given that it has one of the top ranked health systems in the world, are potentially valuable.
Reuters | Feb. 6, 2020
With containment efforts ongoing, the Chinese government is considering the postponement of their annual parliament meeting, which was set to begin on March 5th and features the convening of about 3,000 delegates of The National People’s Congress. This would mark the first time since 1995 that this crucial political meeting has been delayed. China has already postponed the China Development Forum, a business event that was planned for the end of March, and the Canton Fair, a trade fair set for April 15th, which has been suspended until further notice.
The New York Times | Raymond Zhong | Feb. 5, 2020
After a few weeks of unprecedented transparency from the Chinese government regarding the outbreak, attempts to control the narrative are resurfacing as frustration increases amongst Chinese citizens. Now news and media outlets are being told to focus more on the positive aspects of the outbreak, such as the successes of containment efforts.
Coronavirus infections predicted to grow exponentially; first death outside China; outbreak becomes political
The Washington Post | Anna Fifield and Joel Achenbach | Feb. 2, 2020
As more nations impose travel bans and restrictions on passengers going to and from China, tensions are rising. These restrictions run counter to public health recommendations and Chinese officials don’t seem too pleased with them. The Chinese Foreign Ministry’s spokesperson, Hua Chunying commented on the travel restrictions in a tweet implying that the U.S. overreacted. Other countries to impose travel restrictions are the Philippines, New Zealand, Indonesia, and Iraq.