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Chinese ambassador: No need for countries to impose border closures

After the World Health Organization declared the Coronavirus outbreak a global emergency, China is decisively working to control the ...
Chinese ambassador: No need for countries to impose border closures

After the World Health Organization declared the Coronavirus outbreak a global emergency, China is decisively working to control the deadly outbreak, its ambassador to the UN said Friday, insisting there was no need for countries impose "excessive measures" like border closures. 

"There is no need for unnecessary panic, and no need for excessive measures," Ambassador Chen Xu told reporters in Geneva. The UN's World Health Organization on Thursday declared the outbreak a global health emergency, but said it was not recommending any international trade or travel restrictions and urged the numerous countries already taking such measures to reconsider. 

But with the disease -- which has killed 213 people and infected nearly 10,000 in China -- spreading to some 20 nations, governments, businesses and worried people around the world were taking matters into their own hands.

Chen emphasised that the WHO had declared a global health emergency due to the threat of spread in other countries, and not because the agency lacked confidence in China's handling of situation.

Indeed, when he made the announcement Thursday evening, WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed that the "declaration is not a vote of no confidence in China. On the contrary, WHO continues to have confidence in China's capacity to control the outbreak."

A WHO spokesman also warned earlier Friday that measures like closing official border crossings could be counterproductive, and could even accelerate the spread of the virus since people would seek unofficial and unmonitored routes. Chen pointed to the extreme steps China has taken to stop the spread of the virus, which include effectively quarantining more than 50 million people in Wuhan and surrounding Hubei province.


Such measures, he said, had prevented significant spread of the virus beyond China's borders, with only around one percent of those infected so far in other countries.

"We have the capacity to defeat the disease... We are confident to win the fight against this epidemic."

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