Trump, coronavirus and the politics of a pandemic

The coronavirus outbreak has swept the globe and been declared a pandemic, but experts warn the response of some world leaders, including the administration of US President Donald Trump, has been anything but global.

With more than 140,000 people in some 120 countries infected in the outbreak of the new coronavirus disease, officially known as COVID-19, th

But in recent days, both China, where the virus was first detected late last year, and the United States, which on Friday declared a national emergency, have shown nationalist tendencies in their political response.

In the US, Trump’s approach to the virus has appeared more concerned with a political narrative than the public health threat, critics say, with some calling the president’s declaration of a national emergency too little, too late.

In the Trump administration’s portrayal of the outbreak, he said, there has been a “nationalistic, neo-isolationist perspective of trying to pin the blame on the Chinese, pin the blame on the Europeans and trying to minimise or downplay the fact that wherever the virus originated, it’s among all of us, it’s inside of our borders”.

On Wednesday, the White House national security adviser, Robert O’Brien, accused China of “covering up” the virus when it first appeared. Meanwhile, Trump administration officials including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in recent days have taken to calling the coronavirus the “Wuhan virus”, ignoring WHO’s guidelines and inciting rebuke from Beijing.

 

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