TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — China's state-run mouthpiece the Global Times on Sunday (Feb. 23) expressed fears that four countries that have experienced sudden outbreaks of the Wuhan coronavirus have been "slow to respond" while failing to acknowledge the slow response of its own government officials that arguably allowed the disease to spread so rapidly in the first place.
In the op-ed titled "Some countries slow to respond to the virus," the Global Times wrote that that four countries where cases of novel coronavirus (COVID-19) have suddenly exploded, Japan, South Korea, Iran, and Italy, are reacting too slowly to contain the outbreak. The article also boasts of China's "huge medical system" and laments that said countries lack the vast resources the communist state claims to have at its disposal.
The author criticized the four countries for what it considers "insufficient" measures to control and prevent the spread of the disease. The writer cited South Korea's postponement of the new school year, Italy's locking down of some towns, and the cancelation of cultural events in Iran as steps in the right direction, but ultimately inadequate.
The Global Times then contrasted this with China's response, which it lauds as much faster and decisive, with it only taking "a few weeks" for the government to take action. Many outside experts would argue, however, that those "few weeks" were the critical window in which the virus could have been contained to a neighborhood of Wuhan and prevented from spreading to the rest of the country.
There are now accounts indicating that mysterious pneumonia cases were appearing in the city as early as November. Yet from December to Jan. 19, local Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials downplayed the contagious nature of the disease and punished those like ophthalmologist Li Wenliang (李文亮) for sounding alarm bells.
In was not until Jan. 20 that Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (李克強) acknowledged the seriousness of the disease. Yet a quarantine on greater Wuhan was not announced until Jan. 23, by which time five million residents had left for the Lunar New Year and spread the virus to every corner of China and much of the world.
The opinion piece also bragged that China has "a huge medical system and can quickly mobilize over 40,000 medical staff to support Wuhan and Hubei." The author then questioned whether such a herculean effort would be possible in other countries.
In fact, many reports have surfaced of patients being turned away in Wuhan due to a lack of available beds in hospitals. Other reports state that many patients were never diagnosed with the disease due to a lack of test kits, with some saying that getting one was like "winning the lottery."
Video of the inside of the much-vaunted instant hospital built to care for the massive influx of patients in Wuhan was found to more closely resemble a prison. Another video surfaced showing the hastily built structure to be badly leaking water.
The writer of the op-ed acknowledged that the outbreak was still ongoing in China but asserted that "We have gone through the most difficult period." However, no explanation or data was given to verify this claim.
The Global Times claimed that "work and production are also resuming." But reports from non-Chinese news agencies state that many factories have yet to open as workers are afraid to go back to work for fear of contracting the virus.