Chinese state media has criticized the UK and other Western nations' response to the novel coronavirus pandemic, alleging they have adopted a policy of "total surrender."
In several articles over the weekend, Chinese state-run tabloid Global Times questioned the UK's decision to not introduce stricter social distancing measures -- unlike Italy, France, Germany and Spain.
UK government ministers estimate that the outbreak may not peak until 14 weeks from now and have argued that it would be detrimental to implement such measures at this stage of the outbreak.
"Such a laissez-faire mindset and lax measures are considered extremely irresponsible and risk causing a rebound in China due to the growing number of imported infections," one article in Global Times said.
Second wave: There are growing fears in Asia of the possibility of a second wave of infections from imported cases.
Undoing the work: Asian countries including China, South Korea, and Singapore have seen caseloads stabilize in recent weeks, thanks largely to a combination of aggressive containment and social distancing measures. But a rise in infections linked to overseas travel has led to concerns that those sacrifices could be undone.
Stricter measures: Governments across the region are now stepping up quarantine and travel restrictions. From Monday, all overseas travelers arriving in the Chinese capital Beijing will be sent to quarantine facilities for 14 days at their own cost, according to state media. And from March 19, Hong Kong will expand it 14-day mandatory self-quarantine to include the UK, alongside 30 other countries and regions.
Singapore has also had success at containing the virus. Speaking at a news conference on Sunday, Singapore’s Minister for National Development Lawrence Wong said the city state's concern with cases in countries such as the UK and Switzerland is that it "isn’t just about the numbers."
"It is that these countries have abandoned any measure to contain or restrain the virus,” Wong said. “If there’s no attempt to contain, we estimate the number of cases in these countries to rise significantly in the coming days and weeks.”
On Friday, the World Health Organization's director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said Europe had become the epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic. "More cases are now being reported every day than were reported in China at the height of its epidemic," he said.
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