People in a gadget shop in Beijing
People in a gadget shop in Beijing
AFP

Economist Jim O'Neill, the chair of the UK-based thinktank Chatham House on Wednesday made a controversial statement, saying that the world was lucky that the coronavirus started in China, and not in India.

“Thank God this didn’t start in somewhere like India, because there’s absolutely no way that the quality of Indian governance could move to react in the way that the Chinese have done, that’s the good side of the Chinese model, and I think you could probably say the same about Brazil too,” he said while speaking to CNBC.

His statement has caused quite a stir on social media. This is how Twitter reacted:

China may have received a lot of praise from the Wolrd Health Organization for its transparent handling of the coronavirus outbreak. However, while China has received the praise, it could have delayed the instance of the pandemic had it alerted the WHO and other governments.

So far, 80,932 people from China have tested positive for the disease that the WHO has declared a pandemic. Also, the numbers from Italy suggest that China has seriously under-reported its cases.

However, the truth in China, as opposed to what O'Neill suggests is different. It's easy to forget the country chose to not inform people that the disease was spreading. According to a report in Quartz, Chinese government officials did not reveal the seriousness of the virus, that it spread from person to person, the number of people infected, and the circumstances around the death of whistle-blower Dr Li Wenliang.

Dr Wenliang and eight other doctors were reprimanded by the local police in Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus, for spreading 'rumours' online. Despite the doctors indicating that the virus could be transmitted from one human to the other, the government insisted that it was still more of an animal-to-human-type transmission.

The Indian government has been working overtime to ensure its citizens stay safe. Whether or not they have the facilities or the bed count to treat the patients if the count was similar to China's will remain a matter of debate, but the initiatives have been strong.

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