TORONTO -- Canada was praised for not following the U.S.’ example of enacting a travel ban in light of the coronavirus outbreak by a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Monday.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying took questions during an online press conference from international media in regards to the coronavirus and rebuked the U.S.’s response to the outbreak, claiming they had “overreacted,” according to the translated transcript.
“Most countries appreciate and support China's efforts to fight against the novel coronavirus, and we understand and respect them when they adopt or enhance quarantine measures at border entry,” Hua said. “But in the meantime, some countries, the U.S. in particular, have inappropriately overreacted.”
On Sunday, the U.S. began implementing strict travel restrictions in response to the virus, including temporarily denying entry to foreign nationals who visited China in the past 14 days, according to CNN.
Hua singled out Canada in the press conference, praising the Canadian government for not enacting a travel ban like the U.S.
“Canada believes the ban of entry has no basis, which is a sharp contrast for the U.S. behaviours [sic],” Hua said.
Hua went on to excoriate the U.S., saying they had not “provided any substantive assistance” to China, but was “the first to evacuate personnel… first to suggest partial withdrawal of its embassy staff and the first to impose a travel ban on Chinese travellers.”
“What it has done could only create and spread fear,” Hua said, adding that China hopes that countries will make “reasonable, calm and science-based judgments” in response to the coronavirus..
In a press conference Monday, Canadian Health Minister Patty Hajdu explained the government’s choice to avoid a travel ban is due to lack of “evidence to support that closing all the borders is necessarily the right way to go.”
Certainly we know that the evidence suggests actually the opposite - that in fact by closing down the borders it’s much harder to detect where someone is coming from,” Hajdu said, adding that an “open and honest” transaction allowed for a much more detailed screening process.
Sidestepping a question about when the Chinese government plans to provide authorization for the federally-chartered plane for Canadians to be evacuated Wuhan, Hua said that both countries were “in communication” on the issue.
At least 325 Canadians in the Hubei region of China are awaiting evacuation, but those who are already showing symptoms of the coronavirus will not be allowed to board to flight set to land in Trenton, Ont., where a 14-day isolation period awaits them.
Canadian public health officials have repeatedly stressed that the risk to the public is extremely low, and to follow standard flu season protocol of washing hands often, covering mouths during sneezing or coughing and receiving the flu shot.
Chinese community leaders in Canada have condemned the ensuing racist and sinophobic backlash to the coronavirus which is mimicking the panic of the 2003 SARS outbreak, something Prime Minister Justin Trudeau echoed while attending a Lunar New Year event in Toronto last week.