Pedestrians wear face masks as they walk outside the New Orient Landmark hotel in Macau on January 22, 2020.
ANTHONY WALLACE | AFP via Getty Images
China’s Foreign Ministry accused the U.S. on Monday of setting a “very bad example” when it comes to tackling the fast-spreading coronavirus outbreak, saying President Donald Trump‘s administration is spreading fear instead of providing much-needed assistance.
A ministry spokesperson said it’s unreasonable for countries around the world to try to prevent people from crossing borders.
The ministry singled out the U.S., saying it was spreading panic instead of offering significant assistance to halt the coronavirus outbreak.
“The U.S. government hasn’t provided any substantive assistance to us,” ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said.
“What it has done could only create and spread fear, which is a very bad example.”
The White House was not immediately available for comment when contacted by CNBC.
China’s National Health Commission on Monday confirmed 17,205 cases of the coronavirus in the country and 361 deaths.
The number of deaths in mainland China as a result of the virus has now surpassed that of the SARS epidemic, which lasted from 2002 to 2003.
Late last week, Trump signed an order temporarily barring entry to foreign nationals who had traveled to China within the past two weeks. Australia, Italy, Japan, Pakistan, Russia and Singapore have announced similar restrictions.
The World Health Organization has advised against imposing such measures, warning that travel restrictions can cause more harm than good.
“In a globalized world, the destinies of all countries are closely linked,” Hua said, emphasizing that the Trump administration’s decision to impose travel restrictions “could create and spread panic.”
“In the face of a public health crisis, countries should work together to overcome the difficulties, rather than resort to beggar-thy-neighbor practice, let alone take advantage of others’ difficulties.”
Don’t ‘deliberately create panic’
The WHO last week declared the deadly pneumonia-like virus a global health emergency, citing concern that the outbreak continues to spread to other countries with weaker health systems.
WHO’s designation was issued in order to help the United Nations health agency mobilize financial and political support to contain the outbreak.
In a speech to the WHO’s executive board on Monday, China’s delegate urged the international community not to “deliberately create panic.”
The delegate called on countries around the world to treat the outbreak objectively and said the Chinese government would continue to take a “responsible attitude” toward its citizens’ health.
WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Monday that 151 coronavirus cases have been confirmed in 23 countries outside China.
Tedros also reaffirmed the health agency’s view that there is no need to impose restrictions that “unnecessarily” interfere with international travel and trade.