NY Times: WHO’s Decree Not to Close Borders During #COVID-19 Outbreak Was “Politics,” Not Science

The New York Times admits something many of us already knew. The World Health Organization (WHO) has not only long encouraged mass tourism but the edict at the start of the coronavirus outbreak for countries not to close their borders was a directive based on politics, and not science. Worst of all, so-called experts and a global treaty supported their decision. Also, despite the condemnations of the mainstream media that to claim that COVID-19 originated in China was racist, the Gray Lady confirms the sickness hails from the Middle Kingdom. As an aside, still no cries of outrage from the media or Left about China’s awful treatment of African migrants due to COVID-19.

Ski, Party, Seed A Pandemic: The Travel Rules That Let Covid-19 Take Flight

By Selam Gebrekidan, Katrin Bennhold, Matt Apuzzo and David D. Kirkpatrick, September, 30 2020, The New York Times

The World Health Organization said open borders would help fight disease. Experts, and a global treaty, emphatically agreed. But the scientific evidence was never behind them.

ISCHGL, Austria — They came from across the world to ski in the most famous resorts of the Austrian alps.

Jacob Homiller and his college friends flew in from the United States. Jane Witt, a retired lecturer, arrived from London for a family reunion. Annette Garten, the youth director at a tennis club in Hamburg, was celebrating her birthday with her husband and two grown children.

They knew in late February and early March that the coronavirus was spreading in nearby northern Italy, and across the other border in Germany, but no one was alarmed. Austrian officials downplayed concerns as tourists crowded into cable cars by day, and après-ski bars at night.

“The whole world meets in Ischgl,” said Ms. Garten.

Then they all went home, unwittingly taking the virus with them. Infected in Ischgl (pronounced “ISH-gul”) or in surrounding villages, thousands of skiers carried the coronavirus to more than 40 countries on five continents. Many of Iceland’s first known cases were traced to Ischgl. In March, nearly half the cases in Norway were linked to Austrian ski holidays.

Nine months into an outbreak that has killed a million people worldwide, Ischgl is where the era of global tourism, made possible by cheap airfares and open borders, collided with a pandemic. For decades, as trade and travel drew the world closer, public health policy, enshrined by treaty, encouraged global mass tourism by calling for open borders, even during outbreaks.

When the coronavirus emerged in China in January, the World Health Organization didn’t flinch in its advice: Do not restrict travel.

Still, it is too soon to know, based on data and hard science, how much travel restrictions help, and if they do, which restrictions help most. Experts who had defended open borders at the start of the pandemic now say countries should use judicious travel measures. The W.H.O. now calls for a gradual reopening in which each country weighs its own risks.

“There is certainly a stark shift in how it’s being discussed,” said Kelley Lee, a professor at Simon Fraser University in Canada who is studying the impact of travel restrictions in this pandemic. “But the evidence hasn’t changed. We still have poor evidence.”

What is vividly clear is that global public health policies are inadequate, especially regarding travel. Low-cost airlines have created a surge in global travel. The number of people taking at least one overseas trip a year has grown by 80 percent since the regulations were formulated in 2005.