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Governments can sue China before international tribunals for false information about coronavirus

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 21 March 2020, 19:19 IST

After US President Donald Trump made reference to coronavirus a ‘Chinese virus’ and US Secretary of State assused China, Russia and Iran of fanning out misleading information about coronavirus, questions are now being brought up over whether Beijing can be held legally responsible for concealing the pathogen and clamping down on real information from being dispensed.

During a White House briefing on Friday Mike Pompeo claimed that false information was coming from, "places like China and Russia and Iran, where there are coordinated efforts to disparage what America is doing and our activity to do all the things President Trump has set in motion here".

The US President also launched an attack on China stating it was unfortunate that the novel coronavirus got out of control.

As maintained by a report in Fox News, China can be held legally responsible.

An Israle-based advocate, Nitsana Darshan Leitner with specialization in prosecuting terrorist regimes and state sponsors for breaching human rights stated, an argument could be made that just like support for terrorism, which is legally actionable, a government that engages in such reckless disregard and negligence and covers up an epidemic which has the potential to spread worldwide could be held legally liable.”

Furthermore, the expert stated that China cannot be held responsible for making the virus but can be held liable for not sounding the international alarm about the outbreak.

The latest study by the University of South Hampton in the United Kingdom had stated that China could have averted 95% of Covid-19 infections if its steps to curb the outbreak had started three weeks earlier.

"Coronavirus cases could have been reduced by 66 per cent if the measures were taken a week earlier or by 86 per cent if action began two weeks earlier. If the action was taken three weeks later, then the situation could have worsened 18-fold," said the study.

According to the timeline by Axios, it was 10th December when China reported the first patient that started displaying coronavirus like symptoms.

The governments can take legal action against China before international tribunal for breaching its obligations to report the Covid-19 outbreak early.

The total number of infections worldwide mounted to over 275,000 on Saturday, which includes over 11,000 deaths.

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First published: 21 March 2020, 19:19 IST