Did Tedros expect any different? He turned the WHO into Beijing’s mouthpiece for economic reasons. And now for political reasons, Beijing is preventing the WHO from speaking.
No surprises there.
A World Health Organization (WHO) team due to investigate the origins of Covid-19 in the city of Wuhan has been denied entry to China.
Two members were already en route, with the WHO saying the problem was a lack of visa clearances.
However, China has challenged this, saying details of the visit, including dates, were still being arranged.
The long-awaited probe was agreed upon by Beijing after many months of negotiations with the WHO.
[. . .]
The WHO has been working to send a 10-person team of international experts to China for months with the aim of probing the animal origin of the pandemic and exactly how the virus first crossed over to humans.
Last month it was announced that the investigation would begin in January 2021.
The two members of the international team that had already departed for China had set off early on Tuesday, said the WHO. According to Reuters news agency, WHO emergencies chief Mike Ryan said one had turned back and one was in a third country.
North Korea again:
North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un has admitted his five-year economic plan for the isolated country failed to meet its targets in “almost every sector”.
He was speaking at the opening of a rare congress of his ruling Workers’ Party – only the eighth in its history.
North Korea closed its borders last January to prevent the spread of Covid-19, despite claiming to have no cases of the virus.
That has left it cut off from its neighbour and ally, China.
Trade between the two has plummeted by about 80%. Typhoons and floods have devastated homes and crops in North Korea, which remains under strict international sanctions, including over its nuclear programme.
It is not unusual for Mr Kim to admit mistakes – in fact, it is quickly becoming one of his trademarks, the BBC’s Laura Bicker in Seoul reports.
They had an “economic plan”? That’s a shocking development. I thought the only plan was to hold onto the reigns of power as long as possible, until the country collapsed from mass starvation.
North Korea, one of the most isolated countries in the world, continues to insist that it has successfully grappled with the COVID-19 pandemic, with no coronavirus cases confirmed since the beginning of the pandemic.
[. . .]
The North has claimed that a world-class public health system is one of the reasons that it avoided any cases. However, there are no significant developed medical facilities outside of Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. Those who are not living in Pyongyang might be suffering invisibly, without their government’s support amid the pandemic.
[. . .]
Pyongyang’s quick decision to shut the border with China may have prevented a full-fledged COVID-19 disaster, but it has come at a steep cost. South Korean news outlets reported last year that trade between North Korea and China fell 76 percent year-on-year. The biggest drop came in October, when trade was down 99.4 percent compared to the previous year. The information was shared by lawmakers who sit on the National Assembly’s Intelligence Committee.
I’ve seen reports that NK is so paranoid about COVID-19 they won’t unload rice from ships and trains, leaving people to starve.
And “world class public health”? A triage station under a tent in a war zone likely has better medical care than North Korea.
Elsewhere in Asia….
Thailand and Mongolia have fought the good fight against COVID-19, but the walls may have been breached. The numbers bring to mind images of the “World War Z” movie, the dead coming over the walls in Israel. Since December 19, Thailand’s number of active cases increased nineteenfold (230 to 4500), though whether they will have a mass increase in deaths remains to be seen. The government attributes the increase to migrant workers (domestic, not foreign workers).
Mongolia’s run of success was ruined by one selfish idiot: a single truck driver who drove back and forth to Russia violated quarantine, causing a mass spread. A lockdown brought it back under control, but mass gatherings are banned and children stopped going to school. Their first of two deaths came on December 29, and active cases went up ten times between early November and mid-December (less than 50 to over 500). Mongolia’s medical system is that of a developing country and wouldn’t withstand a mass public spread.
On the plus side, Laos, Cambodia, and Vietnam seem to have it under control. Philippines has greatly reduced their numbers, critical in an island nation of 100 million. Singapore could claim to have it beaten, three deaths since August and only one day with over 100 new cases since then. Considering how bad things were in the summer, it’s an amazing achievement.
Bhutan saw a massive december spike in cases, though they have no deaths. Malaysia and Nepal have been escalating since October, threatening to get out of control. Indonesia has been constantly on the increase since this began, with no peak in cases or deaths. It has the potential to go exponential.
Not in Asia:
Wednesday was the first time since April that the UK had over 1,000 deaths.
And I was infuriated to hear two of my friends in the UK, a married couple, have tested positive. They don’t know who or how they caught it, since they don’t go out much nor take visitors, not even family.
She just gave birth three weeks ago. Their daughter is healthy and so are they, but who knows what can happen.