Taipei complains to World Health Organisation after coronavirus case is classed as 'Taiwan, China'

South China Morning Post Dipublikasikan 17.01, 23/01/2020
Taipei complains to World Health Organisation after coronavirus case is classed as 'Taiwan, China'

Taiwan has complained about being classed as part of China by the World Health Organisation after reporting its first case of the novel coronavirus case that has claimed 17 lives and infected hundreds more.

Although the self-ruled island is not a member of the WHO, it said it filed the report through its channel to the organisation on Tuesday.

But when the WHO released its latest figures on the spread of the virus - which it had earlier named 2019-nCoV - it referred to Taipei's report as a case from "Taiwan, China," according to the island's foreign ministry.

"In announcing its report on the latest condition of the novel coronavirus, the WHO has improperly placed the confirmed case from Taiwan under the 'Taiwan, China' category," it said in a statement on Thursday.

"And for this, the ministry has instructed its representative office in Geneva to issue a solemn protest to WHO secretary general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and demand a correction.

"As the international health body, the WHO should have resisted political pressure and maintained a neutral stand in consolidating the WHO charters of upholding the highest standards of human health worldwide instead of bowing to unreasonable demands from China that Taiwan can only be included after it accepts the one-China principle," the ministry said.

The WHO's action effectively put the health of 23 million people in Taiwan at risk, the statement said.

Taiwan accused the WHO of putting the health of 23 million people at risk. Photo: AFP

Beijing says Taiwan should not be allowed even to be an observer to the WHO until it accepts the one-China principle. It considers Taiwan part of its territory and has not ruled out the use of force to reunite it with the mainland.

Taiwan's foreign ministry said that despite not being a member of the WHO it had met all of the global organisation's requirements in reporting its first confirmed case of the new coronavirus.

"In terms of the global effort to fight the epidemic, Taiwan should not be left behind … and become a loophole," it said, adding that the WHO should not confuse health matters with politics.

Taiwan also expressed concern that it had been excluded from the WHO's emergency meeting in Geneva on Wednesday, which was attended by medical experts from China, Thailand, Japan, South Korea and the United States - all of which have confirmed cases of the new coronavirus in their territories.

Meanwhile, the US state department on Wednesday called for Taiwan to be included in the WHO.

"We would encourage further incorporation of Taiwan in the WHO instead of trying to exclude them," the island's Central News Agency quoted an unnamed state department official as saying in a special briefing.

"This is an important time, as you are seeing, the corona cases are popping up in Taiwan, as you'd expect because of the proximity and the movement between the two," the person said, adding that the US hoped Beijing would see the benefit of Taiwan's participation in coping with the outbreak.

Taipei said on Tuesday that a 55-year-old Taiwanese woman who had done business in Wuhan - the mainland China city at the centre of the outbreak - had been confirmed as being infected with the new virus.

The patient was being treated in an isolation ward but her condition was improving, the Taiwan Centres for Disease Control (CDC) said.

On Thursday, the CDC raised its alert level to two from three amid reports of the continued spread of the virus.

"Under level two, all people travelling from (mainland) China, Hong Kong and Macau are required to fill out health statements stating they have not travelled to Wuhan in the past 14 days," Taiwanese Health Minister Chen Shih-chung said.

Anyone who failed to submit such a statement faced a fine of NT$150,000 (US$5,000), he said.

People who had been to Wuhan but showed no signs of being infected were required to remain under observation by the relevant authorities for 14 days, he said.

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