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On June 3, U.S. President Donald Trump gave an interview on the Brian Kilmeade show on Fox News Radio. He had this to say about COVID-19:
"Why isn't Wuhan -- it came out of Wuhan. Why is it that it didn't go to China, but it went to the rest of the world? It went to Europe. It went to the world. It went to the United States. Came out of Wuhan, but it didn't go to Beijing. It didn't go to other parts of China. What's that all about? So how come they let it go out to the world, but they didn't let it go into China? That's a little strange deal going on there."
It is certainly strange if his standard of comparison is the U.S.' response to the pandemic. The World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on January 30. But, even in March, Trump was still talking about his "hunch" regarding the pandemic's mortality rate. Now, the U.S. tops the world in coronavirus impact, with more than 2 million confirmed cases and over 110,000 deaths.
Like many countries that have successfully managed COVID-19's impact, China doesn't rely on "hunch." A week before the WHO made the PHEIC declaration, China put the then-epicenter city of Wuhan on lockdown. Travel restrictions were soon implemented in towns, cities and provinces across China.
Dr. Bruce Aylward, co-head of the China-WHO Joint Mission, said during his visit to China in February that the world is in Wuhan people's debt. It's no exaggeration. The 76-day citywide quarantine shutoff the city's traffic to the outside. For some people, it even meant not being able to step outside their homes. The city ground to a halt. Social lives became non-existent. Businesses were shut.
Were people and the government afraid of the consequences? Sure.
Does anyone regret such measures? Hardly anyone.
On January 27, Chinese President Xi Jinping made clear that "people's interests are the highest priority." The instruction is echoed and carried out by the government, society and each individual.
China mobilized its governmental, societal and even individual resources to combat the virus. Huoshenshan Hospital was constructed in 10 days. Together with Leishenshan Hospital, which took about two weeks from breaking ground to build, the two hospitals added 2,600 beds to specifically treat COVID-19 patients. More than 42,000 medical workers were called upon from all corners of the country and dispatched to Wuhan in more than 330 teams.
Rigorous testing and tracing became the norm. Community workers were mobilized to check temperatures and monitor traffic moving in and out of residential compounds. Digital technology allowed for the usage of big data to trace people's travel history. Restaurants, shopping malls and even open play grounds required proof of clean travel history before granting entrance.
On June 2, Wuhan conducted a new round of testing. Nine million people were tested. Zero cases were found. And even as the country gradually resumes business, people still voluntarily don face masks and maintain few outings.
China isn't alone in this. New Zealand, one of the countries that has most successfully minimized COVID-19's impact, took swift lockdown measures too. John Samuels, a resident in Wellington, said in an interview that the shutdown was an enormous demand from people in New Zealand, given their habitual outdoor exercise and travel. The New Zealand government asked, people complied, and the virus was managed.
In Serbia, the government also imposed strict quarantine measures. Curfews were declared, and even dog-walking was limited to "close to home" and "no more than 20 minutes." Only less than 300 deaths have been reported in the country, with nearly 12,000 confirmed cases.
In the U.S., however, Trump has never given up chanting "re-open the economy." In early May, the U.S. CDC issued warnings that the spread of COVID-19 was still accelerating in the U.S. Trump's focus, however, has clearly moved past this.
Trump's priority has never been only about saving his citizens' lives. For him, adopting tough restrictions is a trade-off with the economy.
In an interview, Shannon Pettypiece, senior White House correspondent for NBC News, pointed out Trump's intention to reopen the economy: "The way I'm hearing (Trump's) advisers and strategists talk about this, they know the economy is going to be really bad going into the election. Their hope is that they can see some upward trend, so that the second quarter numbers are just catastrophic but the third quarter looks a little bit better. And they can spin this as the great American comeback story, as the president turning things around."
When he finds out that he can't get both, he starts to question China's measures. The insinuation that "China infected the world" extends from his mindset that "because I can't do it well, you certainly can't surpass me without cheats or frauds." He forgets that strict quarantine measures prevent the virus' spread by cutting off all ways of transmission. The U.S. might've looked different if it took similar approach. But, for whatever reason, it failed to act at the prompt time.
There's no conspiracy to insinuate. The truth is simply about priority. When pandemic hits, some leaders put people above all else. But, does Trump? What is Trump's priority? He knows. And we know, too. (Source: CGTN)