“Why would the WHO ‘salute’ Italy but not China or Taiwan – another Covid-19 success story – or even Malaysia, which has among the lowest death:cases ratios worldwide?”
Raggie Jessy Rithaudeen
وهو ڬاڬل تروق دالم ڤراڠ چوۏيد-19
The World Health Organisation may be one of the last places to look when seeking for advise on how to battle Covid-19 effectively.
On the 8thof March 2020, the body saluted Italy’s “genuine sacrifices” after the government put a quarter of the population under lockdown to try to halt the spread of the novel coronavirus.
A report read, more than 15 million people in northern Italy woke to find themselves cut off from the rest of the country, after the government imposed strict measures to slow the epidemic.
“The government & the people of Italy are taking bold, courageous steps aimed at slowing the spread of the #coronavirus & protecting their country & world,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said in a tweet.
The tweet was a joke, coming from a body that deflected criticisms against China’s handling of the coronavirus on the basis that China should only be criticised if an “after action review” justifies doing so.
But what sort of “after action review” that prompted Tedros to sing praises of Italy is anyone’s guess.
China’s decision to lock down the city of Wuhan – ground zero for the global Covid-19 pandemic – is said to have prevented more than 700,000 new cases by delaying the spread of the virus.
And it was military assisted, a no-nonsense curfew with no businesses allowed to operate and residents barred from moving distances even within the city.
Italy, on the other hand, has far surpassed China in number of cases even though the European country enforced municipal lockdowns as early as the 21stof February 2020, covering eleven municipalities and affecting around 50,000 people.
The lockdown was initially meant to last until the 6th of March 2020. Of course, the lockdown of Whuhan and several other cities in Hubei, China had begun much earlier, on the 23rdof January 2020 to be precise.
But Wuhan is almost fully open for business, while Italy isn’t going to see a reduction in cases anytime soon.
The difference is the seriousness of the Italian government in handling its lockdown – contrary to claims that “the lockdown measures implemented were the most radical outside China,” the lockdown in Italy was anything but radical, let alone efficient.
On the 23rdof March 2020, I wrote:
“Initially, as Italy’s coronavirus infections ticked above 400 cases and its death toll hit the double digits, the leader of the governing Democratic Party, Nicola Zingaretti, posted a picture of himself clinking a wine glass, urging people “not to change our habits.”
“Ten days later, as the toll hit 5,883 infections and 233 deaths, Zingaretti posted a new video informing Italy that he, too, had the virus.
“That was on the 8th of March 2020.
“Still, people were allowed to have family outings in parks and engage in outdoor activities, the only sign of a restriction being police cars and barricades blocking access into and out of quarantined zones and districts.
“It was only on the 20th of March 2020 that the government of Italy sent in the army to enforce the lockdown in Lombardy, the northern region at the center of the outbreak.
“Even then, the lockdown was not truly a lockdown as there was lack of strict enforcement against gatherings within affected zones, only advise not to do so.
“And it wasn’t until the 21stof March 2020 that Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte announced the closure of factories and all non-essential forms of production.
“But by then, Italy had 47,021 reported cases and was no longer a safe country to be in as there was no telling how many people had spread the disease in parks, cafes and other open areas, taking a leaf out of Zingaretti’s “don’t change our habits” guidebook.
So why would the WHO ‘salute’ Italy but not China or Taiwan – another Covid-19 success story – or even Malaysia, which has among the lowest death:cases ratios worldwide?
As it is, the WHO can’t even seem to make its mind up regarding the need for people to wear face masks in public.
If the body is that politicised, indecisive and skewed towards making European nations appear ‘heroes’, why would the Asian continent need to rely on it and not work towards establishing its own health organisation?