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US, China accuse each other of coronavirus fear-mongering
In this file photo taken on March 5, 2020 US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers remarks to the media, in the Press Briefing Room, at the Department of State in Washington,DC. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo warned China on March 16, 2020 not to spread disinformation on the novel coronavirus after an official in Beijing promoted a conspiracy theory on US involvement.In a phone call with senior Chinese official Yang Jiechi, Pompeo "stressed that this is not the time to spread disinformation and outlandish rumors, but rather a time for all nations to come together to fight this common threat," the State Department said.
AFP/Eric Baradat

US, China accuse each other of coronavirus fear-mongering

Shaun Tandon (Agence France-Presse) - March 17, 2020 - 7:55am

WASHINGTON, United States — The United States and China on Monday each demanded that the other stop smearing its reputation over the novel coronavirus as the pandemic became the latest row between the powers.

The clash came on the day that the World Health Organization said more cases and deaths had been reported in the rest of the world than in China, where the new coronavirus virus was first detected late last year.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in a phone call he initiated with top Chinese official Yang Jiechi, voiced anger that Beijing has used official channels "to shift blame for COVID-19 to the United States," the State Department said.

Pompeo "stressed that this is not the time to spread disinformation and outlandish rumors, but rather a time for all nations to come together to fight this common threat," the department added.

The State Department on Friday summoned the Chinese ambassador, Cui Tiankai, to denounce Beijing's promotion of a conspiracy theory that had gained wide attention on social media. 

Foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian, in tweets last week in both Mandarin and English, suggested that "patient zero" in the global pandemic may have come from the United States -- not the Chinese metropolis of Wuhan. 

"It might be US army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan. Be transparent! Make public your data! US owe us an explanation," tweeted Zhao, who is known for his provocative statements on social media.

Scientists suspect that the virus first came to humans at a meat market in Wuhan that butchered exotic animals.

'Stern warning' to US

Pompeo himself has sought to link China to the global pandemic, repeatedly referring to SARS-CoV-2 as the "Wuhan virus" despite advice from health professionals that such geographic labels can be stigmatizing.

Yang issued a "stern warning to the United States that any scheme to smear China will be doomed to fail," the official Xinhua news agency said in its summary of the call with Pompeo.

The key Chinese foreign policy leader "noted that some US politicians have frequently slandered China and its anti-epidemic efforts and stigmatized the country, which has enraged the Chinese people," Xinhua said.

"He urged the US side to immediately correct its wrongful behavior and stop making groundless accusations against China."

President Donald Trump, under fire over his handling of the pandemic, and his allies have sought to cast the coronavirus as a disease brought by foreigners.

Republican Senator Tom Cotton, a Trump ally, has spoken of the "Chinese coronavirus" and in a recent statement vowed, "we will hold accountable those who inflicted it on the world."

While COVID-19 -- the disease caused by the virus -- has largely come under control in China, it has killed more than 7,000 people around the world and severely disrupted daily life in Western countries.

The pandemic comes at a time of wide-ranging tensions between the United States and China on issues from trade to human rights to Beijing's military buildup.

CHINA NOVEL CORONAVIRUS UNITED STATES
As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: May 13, 2021 - 3:30pm

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

May 13, 2021 - 3:30pm

At the peak of Kenya's third wave of COVID-19 in March, hospitals — buckling under the strain of the virus — saw their oxygen reserves fizzle out. 

Since then, they have been scrambling to increase capacity of the lifesaving element, fearing the nightmare scenario currently unfolding in India due to oxygen shortages.

On the roof of the Metropolitan Hospital, a 150-bed private institution that targets the middle class, a brand-new oxygen production unit has just been installed that is capable of producing up to 600 liters of the gas per minute.

Metropolitan CEO Kanyenje Gakombe said the hospital accelerated plans to produce its own oxygen after supplies were squeezed to the limit during the height of the third wave, fanned by the variants of the coronavirus first detected in Britain and South Africa.

In April Kenya registered a record 571 deaths, and the health ministry warned hospitals were overrun with fewer than 300 patients in the Intensive Care Unit and fewer than 2,000 hospitalised countrywide. — AFP

May 12, 2021 - 6:19pm

The catastrophic scale of the Covid-19 pandemic could have been prevented had the warning signs been heeded, the global panel investigating the world's coronavirus response concluded Wednesday.

The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response blamed a "toxic cocktail" of dithering and poor coordination, said the World Health Organization could have sounded the alarm sooner, and urged rich countries to donate one billion vaccine doses by September, in its long-awaited final report. —  AFP

May 12, 2021 - 12:36pm

Official data show India's coronavirus death toll surpassed 250,000 on Wednesday as the pandemic raged across the vast country of 1.3 billion people.

According to the health ministry, 4,205 people died in the past 24 hours -- a new record -- taking total fatalities to 254,197. 

The number of cases rose almost 350,000 to 23.3 million, the second-highest after the United States. — AFP

May 12, 2021 - 9:03am

The World Health Organization said Wednesday that a variant of COVID-19 behind the acceleration of India's explosive outbreak has been found in dozens of countries all over the world.

The UN health agency said the B.1.617 variant of COVID-19, first found in India in October, had been detected in sequences uploaded to the GISAID open-access database "from 44 countries in all six WHO regions," adding it had received "reports of detections from five additional countries".  — AFP

May 11, 2021 - 6:49pm

Taiwan bans large gatherings after a cluster of local infections prompted authorities to raise the coronavirus alert level in a place with one of the world's best pandemic responses.

The self-ruled island has been hailed as a global leader in containing the COVID-19 pandemic with just 1,210 confirmed cases, 12 deaths and minimal social distancing needed once the initial outbreak was quelled.

Last year ,Taiwan recorded 253 straight days without any local infections. — AFP

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