U.S. calls on WHO to engage directly with Taiwan

Taipei The United States called on the World Health Organization (WHO) during a meeting Thursday to directly engage with Taiwan to better aid the global effort against the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019 nCoV) which has been declared a global health emergency.

At an executive board meeting of the WHO in Geneva, Switzerland, Andrew Bremberg, permanent representative of the U.S. to the Office of the United Nations, said work needs to be done to identify gaps in preparedness to ensure timely detection and rapid response to public health threats.

“For the rapidly evolving coronavirus it is a technical imperative that WHO present visible public health data on Taiwan as an infected area and engage directly with Taiwan public health authorities on actions,” he said.

Representatives of Taiwan’s diplomatic allies Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Nauru, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and the Marshall Islands have also called for Taiwan’s inclusion in the WHO to ensure the welfare of its 23 million people is addressed.

The 146th session of the Executive Board is taking place at the WHO headquarters in Geneva from Feb. 3 8.

Meanwhile, the representative offices of Canada, Australia and the U.S. posted messages on their Facebook accounts Friday supporting Taiwan’s meaningful participation in the WHO and international public health forums.

A number of countries, including the U.S., Japan, Canada and the European Union, have renewed their support for Taiwan’s inclusion in the WHA as an observer over the past week amid the ongoing 2019 nCoV outbreak.

Since 2017, the WHO has not invited Taiwan to the World Health Assembly (WHA) or its meetings at the insistence of China, following the election of President Tsai Ing wen (???) of the independence leaning Democratic Progressive Party in May 2016 and her refusal to accept the “1992 consensus” as a precondition for cross strait talks.

The consensus is interpreted by the Kuomintang (KMT) as both sides of the Taiwan Strait acknowledging there is only “one China” with each free to interpret what “China” means. However, Beijing has never publicly recognized the second part of the KMT interpretation.

Between 2009 and 2016, Taiwan participated in the annual WHA, the decision making body of the WHO, as an observer with the help of the U.S. and at a time of better cross strait relations between Taiwan and China, when Taiwan was governed by the KMT.

The 2019 novel coronavirus (2019 nCoV) was declared a global health emergency by the WHO last week. It has infected over 30,000 people around the world and caused 638 fatalities since it was first discovered in Hubei provincial capital Wuhan at the end of last year.

Three more Taiwanese were confirmed infected with the acute respiratory virus late Thursday, just several hours after the country reported two new cases earlier in the day, hiking the total number of cases in Taiwan to 16.

With China’s coastal city of Xiamen situated less than two kilometers away from Kinmen, Taiwan is fighting to prevent further spread of the virus by implementing a ban on Chinese visitors and foreign travelers who have visited China and its special administrative regions in the past 14 days.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel