The Director-General of the WHO has suggested that China’s approach to the COVID-19 crisis could be the standard of care for global epidemics. However, as remarkable as the Chinese strategy might be, it cannot be replicated in other countries and certainly not in Europe. In Europe, there is a distribution of power between the European Union and its member states. In contrast, China’s political power is concentrated in the central government. This enables it to take immediate measures that affect the entire country, such as massive quarantines or closing borders. Moreover, the Chinese legal framework includes restrictions on privacy and other human rights that are unknown in Europe. In addition, China has the technological power to easily impose such restrictions. In most European countries, that would be science fiction. These conditions have enabled China to combat epidemics like no other country can. However, the WHO might have been overoptimistic. The Chinese standard of care for treating COVID-19 also raises problematic issues for human rights, and the real consequences of these actions remain to be seen.
- health promotion
- legal aspects
- public health ethics
- public policy
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