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Global experts, institutions disfavor imposing travel restrictions on China amid COVID-19 outbreak

Xinhua | Updated: 2020-02-17 15:12

Global experts have argued against imposing travel restrictions on China during the outbreak of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), saying such measures are groundless, ineffective and against humanity.

The argument has been seconded by the World Health Organization (WHO) and institutions in dozens of countries, which have simultaneously called for international cooperation to support China and fight the COVID-19.

Calls for evidence-based decisions

In a paper published last week on British medical journal The Lancet, scholars argued that imposing travel bans on China is a flagrant violation of the International Health Regulations (IHR).

The IHR governs how 196 countries and WHO collectively address the global spread of disease and avoid unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade, stipulating that the measures countries implement when addressing public health risks need to be supported by science, commensurate with the risks involved and anchored in human rights.

Citing Article 43 of the regulations, the paper, written by 16 scholars and supported by research institutions in Canada, Britain, the United States, Norway, Switzerland, Italy and so on, argued that the travel restrictions against China are not supported by science, ineffective, and, most importantly, disregarding the dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms of persons.

The WHO has said there is no reason for measures that unnecessarily interfere with international travel and trade. Addressing the 146th session of the WHO Executive Board meeting earlier this month, Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus called on all countries to implement decisions that are evidence-based and consistent.

Tedros's advise has been echoed by his predecessor Margaret Chan. "WHO has declared that all countries shall not impose travel or trade restrictions on China. And this is also the spirit of international health regulations valued by the WHO," the former director-general has said.

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