NASSAU, BAHAMAS – It is the hope of the Chinese Embassy in The Bahamas that the government’s travel restrictions on China – amid the global outbreak of the Wuhan coronavirus – does not affect the normal movement of people and trade.
In an interview with Eyewitness News Online, Charge d’Affaires of the Chinese Embassy Haigang Yin expressed the Chinese government’s confidence in “containing and overcoming the virus”.
Yin said the embassy has impressed upon the Bahamian government that once the situation is under control all travel bans should be lifted.
“We noticed the travel ban imposed by the Bahamian government on the people traveling recently from China to The Bahamas and also we have talked about this with the Bahamian government officials,” he said.
“We advised them that…the director-general of the [WHO] actually is opposing taking measures like travel bans and we understand the measures taken by different governments to protect their citizens but we hope that this measure should not affect the normal movement of people and also the normal trade.
“We have expressed these concerns to the Bahamian government.”
The Chinese government has locked down Wuhan City, the epicenter of the outbreak in Hubei Province of China.
In efforts to prevent the outbreak from spreading, The Bahamas government implemented an immediate ban on January 30, restricting all travel from China to The Bahamas.
The ban however does not include the restriction of trade from the country.
Any non-residents regardless of nationality who has visited China in the last 20 days will be denied entry into the country.
Additionally, all residents returning to The Bahamas will quarantined for 14 days.
At last report, nine Bahamians who returned home after recent travels to China have been quarantined.
Officials have assured that there has been no suspected, reported or confirmed case of the respiratory illness in The Bahamas.
Minister of Health Dr. Duane Sands has confirmed that some 160 Bahamians are currently in China.
Yesterday, Yin said: “The Bahamian government expressed that they are sympathetic to the Chinese side and also [expressed] their support and confidence in China to overcome this [virus].
“We actually have kept close contact. We exchange views about the situation and about those Bahamian people in China and we all agree that the safety of the people is the priority of both sides and the embassy also impressed that those travel bans should be lifted once the situation is under control.”
Several other countries have moved to restrict travel from China and are evacuating it’s citizens from the country.
As of yesterday, there were over 20,600 cases of the novel coronavirus in 27 countries worldwide – of which 20,400 are on mainland China.
There has been over four hundred deaths recorded, with the first known death outside of China occurring in the Philippines.
The World Health organization has declared the outbreak “a public health emergency of international concern.
“It’s unfortunate that the coronavirus is attracting the attention of the international community,” Yin added.
“The Chinese government is taking very strong and effective measures to contain the spread of the virus.
“We are very confident that in the near future the virus will be contained and finally be eradicated.
“And also the Chinese government is cooperating with the WHO and we have briefed the international community of the situation of this [virus] and we continue to work together with the international community to resolve the issue as soon as possible.
“We are confident we have the capability of containing and overcoming this [virus].”
Xenophobia spreading too
As the world continues to grapple with the new virus strain, there has also been a reported increase in xenophobia towards Chinese communities.
However, the Chinese Charge d’Affaires urged the international community to support his country in its fight against “a common enemy.”
Chinese people are not the enemy.
“I heard that there is some not good expression against Chinese abroad,” Yin said, “but I want to say that the virus is a common enemy of the whole world.
“At this time, we need to work together to overcome this enemy to contain this virus.
“The Chinese element is doing our best to contain the virus.
“You may notice that there is a very small number of affected people outside China.
“China has done whatever we could to contain the virus in China. We need the support of the international community at this moment”
Central Bank Governor John Rolle weighed in on the impact of the illness on the economy while addressing a Monetary Policy Committee press briefing at the Central Bank yesterday.
Rolle said: “We believe at this point there will be a satisfactory global response. One has to monitor it but the expectation is the health authorities will see keep a good handle on the situation and calm heads will prevail.”