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China Daily Global / 2020-09 / 16 / Page007

China hears support for coronavirus measures

By Rena Li in Toronto | China Daily Global | Updated: 2020-09-16 00:00

Canadian Health Minister Patty Hajdu has defended China for its job in handling the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Canadian media.

Asked whether China was "honest" and "forthcoming" in the intelligence it shared with the global community about the risks of the novel coronavirus, Hajdu said all countries have difficulties calculating the extent of a virus' spread.

"Look, very early on, China alerted the World Health Organization (WHO) to the emergence of a novel coronavirus and also shared the sequencing of the gene, which allowed countries to be able to rapidly produce tests to be able to detect it in their own countries," Hajdu said on The West Block.

"I think the phenomenon of underreporting is going to be something that we hear about across the world because, of course, as pandemics come and as we see surges," she said. "It's very difficult to determine how many people are sick at a given time and how many people are having adverse outcomes."

'Incredible demand'

Hajdu said every country has been grappling with the "incredible demand" on data systems, and it is difficult when people are in the middle of a crisis to do thorough accounting.

With a population of 1.4 billion people, China has reported more than 85,000 coronavirus cases and 4,634 deaths. Canada, however, with roughly 34 million, has logged 135,259 cases and 9,163 deaths. The United States, which has become the global epicenter for the pandemic, has reported 6.4 million cases and 192,381 deaths among its population of 328 million.

The virus was first detected spreading in Wuhan in late December last year, although some reports from the United States suggest there may have been earlier cases.

Asked whether that was an "honest mistake" by the Chinese and not a "deliberate effort to conceal", Hajdu said she was not going to "speculate "as minister of health.

"I can tell you that when everything is happening all at once, it can be very difficult, especially depending on the legacy data systems that you may or may not have," she said.

"What I can say is the world needs to work together right now, and we need to ensure we're working in full partnership to defeat COVID-19."

Hajdu said earlier this year that questioning coronavirus infection data from the WHO and China is tantamount to engaging in "conspiracy theories".

When asked in April for her thoughts on whether the WHO's data-which is derived from individual countries-can be trusted, Hajdu dismissed the reporter for feeding into conspiracy mongering that many people have been perpetuating on the internet. The question had been asked in the context of a US intelligence paper that claimed China concealed the extent of its outbreak.

"It's important to remember that there is no way to beat a global pandemic if we're actually not willing to work together as a globe. We will have to come up with a global solution to this virus; no country is an island," she said.


Patty Hajdu



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